Health status and nutritional development of adopted Ethiopian children living in southern Spain: A prospective cohort study.
Hernández-Morante JJ., Piernas C., Guillén-Martínez D., Pardo-Caballero A., Fernández-Abellán MJ., Morales-Moreno I.
OBJECTIVE: The first aim of this study was to evaluate the health status and anthropometrical development of adopted children from Ethiopia living in southern Spain. A second aim was to evaluate the association between these parameters and adherence to the Mediterranean dietary pattern. METHODS: The study sample included 53 adopted children from Ethiopia and a matched sample of 54 native-born children. A physical examination of the children, including height and weight, was conducted in Ethiopia at the time of entry into the adoption process. Height and weight were re-measured at the first day of adoption and 6, 12, and 24 mo after adoption. After 2 y of follow-up, another physical examination was performed, including the KIDMED test, to measure adherence to the Mediterranean diet. RESULTS: Skin and digestive conditions were the most prevalent disorders in Ethiopian children before adoption and at the end of follow-up. Baseline anthropometric characteristics indicated a low wasting prevalence (7.5%); however, stunted growth was more prevalent (35.8%). After 6 mo, the weight-for-age of Ethiopian children was restored (change from baseline P < 0.001), and not significantly different from the Spanish children at 1-y after adoption. Height-for-age also increased from baseline (P < 0.001. A higher KIDMED score was associated with increased weight-for-age (r = 0.279; P = 0.045) and height-for-age (r = 0.385; P = 0.004). CONCLUSIONS: This prospective study of adopted Ethiopian children confirmed a rapid growth development that occurred from the beginning of the adoption process and continued after the 2-y of follow-up. A higher adherence to the Mediterranean diet was associated with better growth development, which reinforces the importance of a balanced and adequate diet in growing children.