Health of Post-Institutionalized Haitian Children Adopted to the United States

Priya E. George, Anna V. Gamble, Elise F. Palzer, Ann M. Brearley, Dana E. Johnson, Judith K. Eckerle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: Haiti remains a principal placement country for intercountry adoptees to the United States. This project reports the health status of children adopted from Haiti arriving to the U.S. and compares them to intercountry adoptees from other regions. Methods: A retrospective chart review was conducted of adoptees placed in the U.S. from Haiti (n=87), age and sex matched with intercountry adoptees placed in the U.S. from Asia (n=87) and Latin America (n=87) between January 2010 and November 2019. Data on immunization status, contagious diseases, and nutrition and growth were analyzed via linear, logistic, and multinomial regression. Results: After adjusting for age, sex, and standardized height, children adopted from Haiti, compared to adoptees from Latin America and Asia, demonstrated a lack of immunity to hepatitis B (OR=5.89;6.87), increased immunity to hepatitis A (OR=0.38;0.30), infection by two or more parasites (OR=8.43;38.48), high lead levels (OR=23.79;7.04), and anemia (OR=15.25;9.18). Unexpectedly, children adopted from Haiti had greater standardized height (-1.28 vs. -1.82 and -2.13) and standardized weight (-0.32 vs. -0.57 and -1.57) than their counterparts from Latin America and Asia. Conclusions: Children adopted from Haiti face complex medical challenges undoubtedly related to the country’s low socioeconomic status (SES) and the impact of recurrent natural disasters and governmental neglect on public health infrastructure. Appropriate care is critical in preventing and avoiding transmission of infectious diseases in adoptees and family members. The high incidence of anemia and elevated lead levels may further exacerbate the developmental effects of early institutional deprivation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1165-1175
Number of pages11
JournalMaternal and child health journal
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by the National Institutes of Health’s National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, grant UL1TR002494. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature.


  • Adoptees
  • Haiti
  • Haiti 2010 earthquake
  • Institutional care
  • Intercountry adoption

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article


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