only in romania
Just kidding and no offense to my Romanian bretheren.
I just read an article published in the Dec. 21, 2007 issue of Science Magazine entitled “Cognitive Recovery in Socially Deprived Young Children: The Bucharest Early Intervention Project” which reported the results of a randomized controlled trial looking at the cognitive outcomes of orphan children who were institutionalized versus those who were not. Wow. Didn’t know it was ethical to do a randomized controlled trial on that kind of a thing–randomizing orphans to either stay institutionalized or go to a foster family? Sounds like someone’s IRB dropped the ball on this one…
Anyway, here’s the abstract from the article:
In a randomized controlled trial, we compared abandoned children reared in institutions to abandoned children placed in institutions but then moved to foster care. Young children living in institutions were randomly assigned to continued institutional care or to placement in foster care, and their cognitive development was tracked through 54 months of age. The cognitive outcome of children who remained in the institution was markedly below that of never-institutionalized children and children taken out of the institution and placed into foster care. The improved cognitive outcomes we observed at 42 and 54 months were most marked for the youngest children placed in foster care. These results point to the negative sequelae of early institutionalization, suggest a possible sensitive period in cognitive development, and underscore the advantages of family placements for young abandoned children.
And surprise surprise, the institutionalized orphans did not fare as well. I guess, as my old friend and mentor who gave this article to me said, you never know the answer until you do the trial.