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Normality and impairment following profound early institutional deprivation: A longitudinal follow-up into early adolescence. Developmental Psychology, 43, 931-946

Social, Genetic and Developmental Psychiatry Research Centre, Institute of Psychiatry, King's College London, London, England. .
Developmental Psychology (Impact Factor: 3.21). 07/2007; 43(4):931-46. DOI: 10.1037/0012-1649.43.4.93
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Longitudinal analyses on normal versus impaired functioning across 7 domains were conducted in children who had experienced profound institutional deprivation up to the age of 42 months and were adopted from Romania into U.K. families. Comparisons were made with noninstitutionalized children adopted from Romania and with nondeprived within-U.K. adoptees placed before the age of 6 months. Specifically, the validity of the assessment, the degree of continuity and change in levels of functioning from 6 to 11 years, and the factors in the pre- and postadoption environment accounting for heterogeneity in outcome were examined. Pervasive impairment was significantly raised in children experiencing institutional deprivation for > or =6 months of life, with a minority within this group showing no impairment. There was no additional significant effect of duration of deprivation beyond the 6-month cutoff, and few other predictors explained outcome. The pattern of normality/impairment was mainly established by 6 years of age, with considerable continuity at the individual level between 6 and 11 years. The findings are discussed in terms of the possibility of a sensitive period for development.

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    • "Between-studies comparisons have revealed that higher rates of behavioral problems occur for those adopted after 6 to 24 months than for earlier adoptees (Hawk & McCall, 2011; Julian, 2013). Children from globally depriving Romanian institutions internationally adopted after 6 months show a heightened risk of later behavioral problems than do those adopted before 6 months (Kreppner et al., 2007). Studies of the parent-reported behavioral functioning of children from socioemotionally depriving institutions of the Russian Federation adopted into advantaged American families have found that children adopted before 18 months had significantly lower problem scores than did children adopted after 18 months of age (Hawk & McCall, 2011; Merz & McCall, 2010). "
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    • "For example, of the 15 studies of one sample from the ERA Study Team, only 3 included information about children's prenatal and birth experience. But with one exception (Bos et al. 2009), studies have not found a relationship between birth variables and outcome variables (Kreppner et al. 2007; Merz and McCall 2010, 2011; Sonuga-Barke et al. 2008). Of the set of 65 studies, 17 did not indicate whether children were reared in an institution; when possible, authors of these studies were contacted for further information, and information was obtained for 12 of these articles. "
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    ABSTRACT: One of the major questions of human development is how early experience impacts the course of development years later. Children adopted from institutional care experience varying levels of deprivation in their early life followed by qualitatively better care in an adoptive home, providing a unique opportunity to study the lasting effects of early deprivation and its timing. The effects of age at adoption from institutional care are discussed for multiple domains of social and behavioral development within the context of several prominent developmental hypotheses about the effects of early deprivation (cumulative effects, experience-expectant developmental programming, and experience-adaptive developmental programming). Age at adoption effects are detected in a majority of studies, particularly when children experienced global deprivation and were assessed in adolescence. For most outcomes, institutionalization beyond a certain age is associated with a step-like increase in risk for lasting social and behavioral problems, with the step occurring at an earlier age for children who experienced more severe levels of deprivation. Findings are discussed in terms of their concordance and discordance with our current hypotheses, and speculative explanations for the findings are offered.
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    • "Thus, the varying stimulation thresholds of ED and LD chimpanzees confirmed Field's (1985) assumption that an individual's optimal stimulation threshold in adulthood depends on the amounts of stimulation and arousal modulation received during early infancy and that the loss of an arousal-reducing primary attachment figure results in poor social adjustment. Comparable studies on adult humans are lacking so far; however, adolescent Romanian adoptees who had been institution-reared during the sensitive period of attachment formation had substantial social impairments by ages 6 and 11, respectively (Kreppner et al., 2007). An individual's stimulation threshold in turn will affect his or her compatibility with social partners because physical contact is such an important communication channel among apes (Hertenstein, Verkamp, Kerestes, & Holmes, 2006). "
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