Immunization status of internationally adopted children in Italy.Vaccine. 2006 May 08; 24(19):4138-43.V
An increasing number of internationally adopted children is coming to Italy, and their immunization status is unknown. We evaluated the immunization status of such children in Palermo, Italy. We searched for the presence of a BCG scar in 88 children, 49 boys and 39 girls (mean age 76+/-32 months), most of whom (98%) came from Eastern Europe. Presence of BCG scar was observed in 59 (67.1%) of them, included five children without any pre-adoptive medical records. Twenty-three out of 29 children without any evidence of BCG scar were tested by Mantoux. Seven (30.4%) of 23 were tuberculin positive and diagnosed as having latent tuberculosis infection. We also examined immunization status against poliovirus 1-3, tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis, measles, mumps, rubella and hepatitis B of 70 internationally adopted children and we compared it with the pre-adoptive immunization records of their birth country. Protective titers (>1:8) against poliovirus 1-3, were found respectively in 67.1%, 91.4%, 42.8% of 70 immunized children, and only 38.5% of them had at the same time full protection against all three types of poliovirus. Protective titers against tetanus and diphtheria were found in 91.4% and 95.7% of 70 vaccinated children. Presence of antibodies against pertussis, measles, mumps and rubella was observed respectively in 16 (32.6%) of 49, 40 (62.5%) of 64, 28 (56%) of 50 and 24 (85.7%) of 28 children who had received the vaccine. As regards hepatitis B, only 20 of 29 vaccinated children had detectable hepatitis B surface antibodies, while four of 29 vaccinated and two of 41 not vaccinated children were positive for both hepatitis B surface antibodies and hepatitis B core antibodies. Finally three of 41 not vaccinated children were both hepatitis B surface antigen and hepatitis B core antibodies positive. No relation was found between health status and immunization and between age and antibody positiveness of vaccinated children except for hepatitis B, therefore the youngest immunized children were more likely to be hepatitis B surface antibodies positive. Our data suggest that internationally adopted children should be tested for their immunization status on arrival in the adopting country, because they are not protected in a sufficient way against vaccine-preventable diseases and their pre-adoptive immunization records sometimes are lacking and frequently are scarcely reliable.