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Loving Foster Homes Improve Kids' Attention, Impulsivity
Date:2/1/2010

A stable environment also helps behavior, researchers find

MONDAY, Feb. 1 (HealthDay News) -- Foster children who are placed in stable, loving homes show noticeable improvement in symptoms of inattention and hyperactivity compared to children who get moved around a lot and live with parents who are often annoyed or angry at them, research finds.

"The parenting environment and the numbers of homes or stability are tremendous factors that contribute to better adjustment for these symptoms," said L. Oriana Linares, lead author of a study appearing in the March issue of Pediatrics.

Linares, an associate professor of pediatrics and psychiatry at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City, pointed out that the children in the study did not necessarily have attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), but did have symptoms of inattention and impulsivity.

Such symptoms are extremely prevalent in children placed in foster homes.

"It's a common reason for what we call failed placement, when the foster mom returns the child to the agency and says the child is unmanageable," Linares said.

But while this phenomenon is well-known, experts have little information on whether the symptoms decline over time, or actually worsen, and what affects that trajectory.

The authors looked at 252 children in 95 families who had been removed from the home because of abuse or neglect. Follow-up lasted four years, during which time investigators gathered information from biological parents, foster parents, classroom teachers and the kids themselves.

"Were they always on the go? Always overactive? Climbing on things? Couldn't stop? Had to have things now? Inattention, forgetting where things were?" Those were some of their questions, Linares said.

There were three main findings.

The first was that, in general, symptoms of hyperactivity and inattentio
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