Dr Jana Kreppner, “Young adult outcomes following early life institutional deprivation: Findings from the young adult follow-up of the English and Romanian Adoptees Study” University of Southampton: Departmental Seminar Series 2017/18
Hosted by Fiona MacCallum
Refreshments in Common room at 3.30pm
“Young adult outcomes following early life institutional deprivation: Findings from the young adult follow-up of the English and Romanian Adoptees Study”
Jana Kreppner, Associate Professor in Developmental Psychopathology, University of Southampton
A central question for developmental psychology concerns the contributions of early experiences to long-term development. While over the last decade evidence has accumulated documenting long-term adverse neurodevelopmental and mental health outcomes for children who experienced extreme early adversity, less is known how these difficulties might continue into later life. In this talk, I will present the latest data from the longitudinal English and Romanian Adoption Study (ERA) which followed children who were raised in the grossly depriving institutions of the Ceaucescu regime during the late 1980s and who were adopted by families living in the U.K.. ERA studied 165 Romanian adoptees who were placed with their adoptive families at varying ages ranging from just a few weeks old up to 42 months of age. Their development is compared with 52 within-UK adoptees who were placed with their families before 6 months of age and who had not suffered maltreatment or neglect. The ERA sample was prospectively followed through childhood, adolescence and into early adulthood. The study has shown that there was a devastating initial impact of early deprivation on development for nearly all adoptees followed by a remarkable degree of catch-up for many. However, about half of the children who spent more than the first 6 months of their lives in institutions continued to suffer significant developmental difficulties right through to adolescence. I will present our recent findings showing considerable persistence into adulthood of elevated rates of inattention and overactivity, disinhibited social behaviour, and autistic features. Interestingly, there was remission in rates with cognitive impairment from childhood to adulthood. The findings will be discussed in terms of the compelling evidence that time-limited exposure to severe early adversity can have a profound and lasting psychological impact despite subsequent change to a much better, caring and supportive rearing environment.