Comprehensive Health Evaluation of the Newly Adopted Child

Children who join families through the process of adoption, whether through a domestic or international route, often have multiple health care needs. Pediatricians and other health care personnel are in a unique position to guide families in achieving optimal health for the adopted children as families establish a medical home. Shortly after placement in an adoptive home, it is recommended that children have a timely comprehensive health evaluation to provide care for known medical needs and identify health issues that are unknown. It is important to begin this evaluation with a review of all available medical records and pertinent verbal history. A complete physical examination then follows. The evaluation should also include diagnostic testing based on findings from the history and physical examination as well as the risks presented by the child’s previous living conditions. Age-appropriate screenings may include, but are not limited to, newborn screening panels and hearing, vision, dental, and formal behavioral and/or developmental screenings. The comprehensive assessment may occur at the time of the initial visit to the physician after adoptive placement or can take place over several visits. Adopted children can be referred to other medical specialists as deemed appropriate. The Council on Adoption, Foster Care, and Kinship Care is a resource within the American Academy of Pediatrics for physicians providing care for children who are being adopted.

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