The Effects of Early Foster Care Intervention on Attention Biases in Previously Institutionalized Children in Romania
The current study examined visual attention biases in 8-year-old children who were part of the Bucharest Early Intervention Project (BEIP). Relations among attention biases and concurrent social outcomes were also investigated. In early childhood, 136 children abandoned at birth or shortly thereafter into institutional care were randomized to receive a high-quality foster care intervention or care-as-usual within the context of the Bucharest Early Intervention Project (BEIP). At 8 years of age, 50 care-as-usual, 55 foster care, and 52 community controls performed a behavioral dot-probe task, and indices of attention biases to threat and positive stimuli were calculated. Concurrent data on social behavior were collected. Children placed into the foster care intervention had a significant attention bias toward positive stimuli, while children who received care-as-usual had a significant bias toward threat. Children in the foster care intervention had a significantly larger positive bias when compared to the care-as-usual group. A positive bias was related to more social engagement, more prosocial behavior, less externalizing disorders, and less emotionally withdrawn behavior. The magnitude of positive bias was predicted by age of placement into foster care among children with a history of institutionalization. An attention bias towards positive stimuli was associated with reduced risk for behavioral problems amongst children who experienced early psychosocial deprivation. Research assessing attention biases in children experiencing early environmental stress may refine our understanding of the mechanisms underlying risk for later psychiatric and social disorders and inform prevention efforts.
Examining Depression, Anxiety, and Foster Care Placement as Predictors of Substance Use and Sexual Activity in Adolescents
This study investigated the impact of anxiety and depression on sexual activity and substance use behaviors in a sample of 56 community- (traditional living arrangements) and foster care-dwelling adolescents aged 12 to 17 years.
Results suggest that adolescents within out-of-home care are at increased risk for engaging in these behaviors when compared with community-dwelling peers, and they may benefit from specific interventions aimed at decreasing participation. Future research may focus on assessing the effectiveness of interventions for these youth.
Effects of early psychosocial deprivation on the development of memory and executive function
This study investigated the effects of early institutional care on memory and executive functioning. Subjects were participants in the Bucharest Early Intervention Project (BEIP) and included institutionalized children, children with a history of institutionalization who were assigned to a foster care intervention, and community children in Bucharest, Romania
These results support and extend previous findings of deficits in memory and executive functioning among school-age children with a history of early deprivation due to institutional care. This study has implications for the millions of children who continue to experience the psychosocial deprivation associated with early institutional care.
(Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive Functioning, BRIEF). A strong negative correlation was found between age of adoption and BRIEF scores controlling for ADHD symptoms; no other pre- or post-adoption variables strongly correlated with executive functioning. Although all participants scored below cut-off on an autism screening measure (Social Communication Questionnaire, SCQ), a moderate positive correlation was observed with age of adoption. The identified elevation in emotional, behavioural and executive functioning difficulties is in line with previous research examining children adopted from institutions; however, the observed negative correlation between BRIEF scores and age of adoption is contrary to previous evidence. Limitations and implications for future research are discussed.
Effects of institutional rearing and foster care on
psychopathology at age 12 years in Romania: follow-up of
an open, randomised controlled trial
Findings We followed up 110 children from the BEIP trial between Jan 27, 2011, and April 11, 2014, and 49 children as comparators who had never been placed in an institution. The 110 children who had ever been placed in an institution had higher symptom counts for internalising disorders (mean 0·93 [SD 1·68] vs 0·45 [0·84], difference 0·48 [95% CI 0·14–0·82]; p=0·0127), externalising disorders (2·31 [2·86] vs 0·65 [1·33], difference 1·66 [1·06–2·25]; p<0·0001), and ADHD (4·00 [5·01] vs 0·71 [1·85], difference 3·29 [95% CI 2·39–4·18]; p<0·0001) than did children who had never been placed in an institution. Compared with 55 children randomly assigned to receive care as usual, the 55 children in the foster-care group had fewer externalising symptoms (mean 2·89 [SD 3·00] for care as usual vs 1·73 [2·61] for foster care, difference 1·16 [95% CI 0·11 to 2·22]; p=0·0255), but symptom counts for internalising disorders (mean 1·00 [1·59] for care as usual vs 0·85 [1·78] for foster care, difference 0·15 [–0·35 to 0·65]; p=0·5681) and ADHD (mean 3·76 [4·61] for care as usual vs 4·24 [5·41] for foster care, difference –0·47 [–2·15 to 1·20; p=0·5790) did not differ. In further analyses, symptom scores substantially differed by stability of foster-care placement. Interpretation Early foster care slightly reduced the risk of psychopathology in children who had been living in institutions, but long-term stability of foster-care placements is an important predictor of psychopathology in early adolescence.
Attachment orientations and emotion regulation
Attachment orientations have important implications for emotion regulation and health.
Attachment-related individual differences in emotion regulation are evident in the brain.
Avoidant people’s defenses are fragile and tend to collapse under stress.
Attachment insecurities are associated with deficits in neural structure associated with emotion regulation.
We begin with a brief account of the hypothesized links between different forms of attachment insecurity (anxiety, avoidance) and strategies people use in regulating distress and coping with threatening events. We then review findings from correlational and experimental studies showing that individual differences in attachment orientation are reflected in cognitive, behavioral, and neural patterns of emotion regulation.
Impact of Childhood Maltreatment on the Recognition of Facial Expressions of Emotions
Taken together, these results suggest that childhood exposure to maltreatment experiences amplifies children’s “pre-existing bias” for anger labeling in forced-choice emotion recognition task. Moreover, they strengthen the thesis according to which the recognition bias for angry facial expressions is a manifestation of a functional adaptive mechanism that tunes victim’s perceptive and attentive focus on salient environmental social stimuli.
A systematic review of cognitive functioning among young people who have experienced homelessness, foster care, or poverty
A total of 31 studies were included. Compared to non-disadvantaged youth or published norms, cognitive performance was generally found to be impaired in young people who had experienced homelessness, foster care, or poverty. A common area of difficulty across all groups is working memory. General cognitive functioning, attention, and executive function deficits are shared by the homeless and poverty groups. Creativity emerges as a potential strength for homeless young people.
Effects of Family Structure on Mental Health of Children: A Preliminary Study