Thursday, June 12, 2008

Medical Conditions to Expect

The question about what medical conditions one could expect when adopting from Ethiopia came up in a comment by Katie. I am not a doctor and this is certainly not a comprehensive list, but below are some of the things either we or others we know have experienced.

Lice – Sure you have heard of it, but can you identify it in your new child’s hair? We missed it on one of our new kids the first go around and then had to deal with a full blown case in our home. The next time we adopted, we took the special shampoo with us and had it all taken care of before we set foot in the US.

Ringworm – This fungal infection can affect the skin, but is more prevalent on the scalp. You will notice that your child appears to have dandruff or something similar but more pronounced. Topical creams don’t work on the scalp so you will need to get a prescription for an oral medication.

Other fungal skin conditions – I have no idea what all of the varieties are, but they are usually solved with a cream that you would use for athlete’s foot.

Molluscum Contagiosum – These water warts caused by a virus can be small or grow to be quite large. There are many suggested but not verifiably effective remedies. Usually the best thing to do with mild cases is to just let nature run its course. Over several months the body will win the war with the virus and they will burst or be reabsorbed.

Scabies – This little mite burrows in your skin and can cause some intense itching and may be treated with a full body cream.

Various intestinal parasites – When you get back to the US you will be collecting stool samples to test for all sorts of parasites. If something turns up, you get a prescription to take care of it. One thing to note is that giardia is not always found the first time around, so request a retest if the diarrhea does not improve.

Tuberculosis – TB is present in Ethiopia and there is a chance that your child may come home with it. The most likely symptom will be a persistent cough. You can read up on the other symptoms online. Diagnosing pediatric TB can be tough. Usually doctors check to see if the parents have it which probably can’t be done in the case of an adopted child. While TB is serious, it is great to be in America where we have all sorts of drugs to address it. One good thing is that the CDC says that kids under 10 are generally not considered contagious.

This is my list. Feel free to add anything else you have encountered so others know what to expect.


Katie said...

I appreciate very much your response to my question!

I have never seen a louse so I don't know if I could identify it in anyone's hair. Good suggestion on bringing the shampoo with you, I wouldn't have thought of that.

Any other medical supplies you'd suggest bringing to personally have on hand?

kate said...

I know many Russian AF bring scabies medication with them--and treat if there's ANY chance their new little ones might have them. It's a quick, overnight treatment--and isn't harmful is you don't have scabies. How nice if there ARE scabies to leave them in the hotel (or on the overnight train to Moscow!) instead of bringing them home.

kate said...

ps I'd bring all sorts of OTC meds for you and the child, too--Advil, children's pain reliever, benedryl, etc. It's so nice to be dealing with familiar meds when you're travelling and ill.