Health status and nutritional development of adopted Ethiopian children living in Southern Spain: A prospective cohort study

Juan José Hernández-Morante, et al -Nutrition



To evaluate the health status and anthropometrical development of adopted children from Ethiopia living in southern Spain. A second objective was to evaluate the association between these parameters and the adherence to the Mediterranean dietary pattern.


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 in the adoption process. Height and weight were re-measured at the first day of adoption and 6, 12 and 24-month post-adoption. After 2 years of follow-up, another physical examination was performed, including the KIDMED test to measure adherence to Mediterranean diet.


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 months, the weight-for-age (WAZ) of Ethiopian children was restored (change from baseline p<0.001), and not significantly different from the Spanish children at 1-year post-adoption. Height-for-age (HAZ) also increased from baseline (p<0.001. A higher KIDMED score was associated with increased WAZ (r=0.279; p=0.045) and HAZ (r=0.385; p=0.004).


This prospective study of adopted Ethiopian children confirmed a rapid growth development which occurred from the beginning of the adoption process and continued after the 2-years 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.