Surviving Life In Foster Care: Why Children In Foster Care Are Vulnerable To Depression, Learning Disabilities, Obesity & Asthma

By Olivia Reese, Parent Herald October 19, 12:00 am
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It turns out that being in foster care can have negative effects on children. A new study found that kids in the United States who have been in foster care have higher risks of mental and physical health problems such as obesity, asthma, depression, and learning disabilities including attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or ADHD.

A recent study published in the journal Pediatrics found that children who have been in foster care were twice as likely to develop asthma and obesity and three times more likely to have hearing and vision issues, Medical News Today reported. As for mental health, children who have been in foster care were seven times more likely to develop depression and five times more likely to have anxiety.

Behavioral problems are six times more common among children in foster care as well. ADHD is thrice as likely to appear in kids in foster care while learning disabilities and developmental delays are twice as likely to occur among fostered children.

Kristin Turney, one of the study's authors from the University of California-Irvine, said that the study is an "important contribution to the research community." This is because the research indicates that children in foster care have poorer health quality than kids who are not in foster care placement.

"This study expands our understanding of the mental and physical health of these highly vulnerable children, but we must take a closer look if we are to understand how foster care really affects child well-being," Turney explained, as quoted in Medical News Today's report.

In 2014, more than 650,000 children in the U.S. were in foster care, according to Children's Rights. Kids remain in state care for almost two years but seven percent of them stayed in foster care for five or more years.

The average age of children in foster care is almost nine. In 2014, it was found that more than half of kids in foster care were young people of color.

Plenty of the country's child welfare systems are "badly broken," Children's Rights added. Kids face the possibility of serious harm or abuse. Some children get separated from their siblings and others jump from one foster care institution to the next. Others spend many years in foster homes or institutions instead of reuniting with their families or getting moved fast into adoptive homes.

Julia Steele, an assistant professor of nursing at the University of Utah, said that children should undergo physical and mental health evaluations when they get into foster systems, UPI reported. Kids with depression and anxiety should be given "trauma-informed" therapy.

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