Do internationally adopted children in the Netherlands use more medication than their non-adopted peers?

Joost R. van Ginkel, Femmie Juffer*, Marian J. Bakermans-Kranenburg, Marinus H. van IJzendoorn

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Empirical evidence has shown that international adoptees present physical growth delays, precocious puberty, behavioral problems, and mental health referrals more often than non-adoptees. We hypothesized that the higher prevalence of (mental) health problems in adoptees is accompanied by elevated consumption of prescription drugs, including antidepressants, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) medication, and medication for growth inhibition/stimulation. In an archival, population-based Dutch cohort study, data on medication use were available from the Health Care Insurance Board by Statistics Netherlands from 2006 to 2011. The Dutch population born between 1994 and 2005 and alive during the period of measurement was included (2,360,450 including 10,602 international adoptees, of which 4447 from China). Their mean age was 6.5 years at start (range 1–12 years) and 11.5 years at the end of the measurement period (range 6–17 years). Chinese female adoptees used less medication for precocious puberty (as treatment for precocious puberty; odds ratio (OR) = 0.57, effect size Cohen’s d = −0.31) and contraception (OR = 0.65, d = −0.24) than non-adoptees. For both males and females, non-Chinese adoptees used more medication for ADHD than non-adoptees (males: OR = 1.22, females: OR = 1.32), but the effect was small (males: d = 0.11, females: d = 0.15). Conclusions: Adoptees in the Netherlands generally do not use more medication than their non-adopted peers.What is Known:• Meta-analytical evidence shows that international adoptees present physical growth delays and mental health referrals more often than non-adopted controls.• With the exception of one Swedish study on ADHD medication, there is no other systematic research on medication use of international adoptees.What is New:• All differences in medication use between international adoptees in the Netherlands and non-adopted controls were below the threshold of a small effect with the exception of medication for precocious puberty, but this effect was in the opposite direction with female adoptees using less medication for precocious puberty than non-adoptees.• International adoptees in the Netherlands do not use more medication despite experiences of preadoption adversity and higher rates of mental health referrals during childhood and adolescence.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)715-725
Number of pages11
JournalEuropean Journal of Pediatrics
Volume175
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2016
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Antidepressants
  • Contraception
  • Medication for ADHD
  • Medication for growth stimulation
  • Medication for precocious puberty

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