Physical health

Key findings

As a result of their experiences, children in foster care are more likely than other children to have physical health problems.

The continuing health care needs of looked-after children may be overlooked. When they are in foster care, children nearly always receive treatment for acute health needs but chronic health problems and dental care may be neglected.

Practice points

What we know from research

Physical health

Looked-after children are more likely than other children to have been physically abused, injured and neglected. Often they have lived at many homes before being looked after and, as a result, they may not have received continuity of health care. They are more likely to have physical health problems than their peers and there is often nobody who has an overview of their health needs or history. Whilst they are nearly always treated for acute illness, chronic illnesses and dental care may be neglected (33).

A significant minority of looked-after children have a physical disability and a sizeable proportion, about a quarter, have a learning disability, in a minority of cases a serious one (17), (34), (35).