[ Back to EurekAlert! ] Public release date: 2-May-2010
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Contact: Susan Martin
ssmartin@aap.org
847-434-7877
American Academy of Pediatrics

Children living with relatives struggle with physical, mental health issues

Study shows about 2.8 million youths in 'kinship care'

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA It is well-known that children in foster care are at increased risk for physical and mental health problems. But what about kids who live with relatives other than their birth parents?

Children who live in "kinship care" often fly under the radar of child welfare agencies, and little research has been done on this group of children until now.

Sara B. Eleoff, MD, and her colleagues, used data from a 2007 national survey of more than 91,000 children to identify those living in kinship care and compare their health and family characteristics to children living with at least one birth parent. Dr. Eleoff will present their findings on Sunday, May 2 at the Pediatric Academic Societies (PAS) annual meeting in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

The researchers found that about 2.8 million children live with relatives, compared to about 800,000 in foster care. And like children in foster care, those in kinship care experience a multitude of health issues.

"Children who live in kinship care with a relative have more special health care needs, mental health problems such as ADHD and depression, and dental problems compared with children who live with their parents," said Dr. Eleoff, from the University Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry in New York.

These children also are more likely to be black (48 percent vs. 17 percent), older than 9 years (59 percent vs. 48 percent), have public health insurance (72 percent vs. 30 percent) and live in households with incomes at or near the poverty level (31 percent vs. 18 percent). In addition, their caregivers frequently report having fair or poor overall health or mental health.

"These children and their families may need additional services and supports," Dr. Eleoff said. "Therefore, health care providers, educators and public health agencies should ask about children's living situations and consider the risk of special needs among children in kinship care."

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To see the abstract, go to http://www.abstracts2view.com/pas/view.php?nu=PAS10L1_935&terms

The Pediatric Academic Societies (PAS) are four individual pediatric organizations who co-sponsor the PAS Annual Meeting the American Pediatric Society, the Society for Pediatric Research, the Academic Pediatric Association, and the American Academy of Pediatrics. Members of these organizations are pediatricians and other health care providers who are practicing in the research, academic and clinical arenas. The four sponsoring organizations are leaders in the advancement of pediatric research and child advocacy within pediatrics, and all share a common mission of fostering the health and well being of children worldwide. For more information, visit www.pas-meeting.org. Follow news of the PAS meeting on Twitter at http://twitter.com/PedAcadSoc



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