Prevalence of intrafamilial and extrafamilial adoption in a clinical and non-clinical setting samples of children and adolescents

INTRODUCTION/OBJECTIVES: Researchers from different countries have reported a higher percentage of adopted children seen in psychiatric clinics when compared to other clinics and to the general population. The objective of this study was to verify the prevalence of adopted children in two different setting samples, a clinical and non-clinical one, identifying possible associations between the type of adoption (extrafamilial or intrafamilial) and psychiatric assistance. METHODS: A cross-sectional study was carried out involving two groups of children aged six to 14 years: a clinical sample (G1) drawn from psychiatry service for children and adolescents located in a specific region of the city of São Paulo (N=551), and a non-clinical sample (G2) drawn from a school located in the same region (N=365). RESULTS: There was a greater proportion of boys in G1 (70%) than in G2 (45%; p<0.001). It was observed a greater prevalence of adoption in G1 (7.4%) when compared to G2 (4.1%; p=0.048). Among adopted children, extrafamilial adoption predominated in G1 (73.2%), and intrafamilial adoption predominated in G2 (60.0%; p=0.030). Among adopted boys (N=32), there was still a predominance of extrafamilial adoption in G1 (80,8%) and still a predominance of intrafamilial adoption in G2 (66.7%; p=0.038). Among adopted girls (N=24), there was no difference between the two groups regarding the proportion of extrafamilial and intrafamilial adoption (p=0.675). CONCLUSIONS: These data suggest that: (1) adopted children are often taken to mental health clinics; (2) intrafamilial adoption is more common in the general population, but extrafamilial adopted children are the ones for whom psychiatric assistance is sought; and (3) boys as a whole and the extrafamilial adopted one are more often taken to mental health clinics when compared to girls.

Adoption; Child psychiatry; Child; Adolescent

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