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Title of Paper: Pediatric health assessments of young children in child welfare by placement type

Study Location: Los Angeles, California, USA

Type of Paper: Original Article; Medical Chart Review

Purpose: To assess health-related problems across placement type and to examine the associations of placement type, demographic, and child variables with health-related problems.

Nutrition-Related Measures:

Participants: 449 children under the age of 6 years old who were seen at a U. S. clinic (Los Angeles, CA) that only serves children receiving child welfare services. Children were living in one of three types of placement: 58% were in unrelated foster care, 29% were in kin foster care, and 13% were with birth parents.

Methods: Retrospective medical chart review of children entering the child welfare system. Approximately half of the children were seen within 30 days of entering the child welfare system, and 75% were seen within one year of entry.

Nutrition Results (Physical Growth):

Conclusions & Clinical Implications: More children in the child welfare system in the U. S. are overweight than underweight. 28% were overweight/obese, and 7% were underweight. Children over the age of 2 years were almost two times more likely to be overweight/obese than children under the age of 2 years. The prevalence of overweight/obesity in children living in foster care in this study was higher than the prevalence in the U. S. for children of similar ages [based on the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) between 2003 and 2006].

Limitations of the Nutritional Results: The authors discuss that it is not known whether the prevalence of overweight/obesity is associated with being in the child welfare system or with poverty. The prevalence of obesity in 2-5 year olds in this study was similar to the prevalence of obesity in low-income children reported in a national survey.

Reference: Schneiderman JU, Leslie LK, Arnold-Clark JS, McDaniel D, Xie B. Pediatric health assessments of young children in child welfare by placement type. Child Abuse & Neglect. 2011; 35 (1): 29-39. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21316106


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