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Family Medical History Sharing With Adopters Debated

Last Updated: December 30, 2009.

More specific adoption guidelines on the sharing of family medical history information with adoptive parents are needed to ensure the welfare of the adoptee and family medical record confidentiality, according to a study in the January issue of the Archives of Disease in Childhood.

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 30 (HealthDay News) -- More specific adoption guidelines on the sharing of family medical history information with adoptive parents are needed to ensure the welfare of the adoptee and family medical record confidentiality, according to a study in the January issue of the Archives of Disease in Childhood.

Catherine M. Hill, of the University of Southampton in the United Kingdom, and colleagues reviewed current professional adoption guidelines and legislation to assess the sharing of family medical history information with potential adoptive parents.

The authors note that current adoption practice in the United Kingdom encourages the sharing of an adoptive child's family medical history. However, some birth parents prefer not to release this information to potential adoptive parents, with professional guidelines and legislation preventing the sharing of this information without consent unless in public interest. The conflict between adoptive legislation, guidelines, and common practice by medical advisors needs to be outlined regarding disclosure to secure a child's welfare and a family's medical history confidentiality.

"We would welcome a wider debate on where the threshold of public interest lies in such cases and more specific guidelines to ensure that practitioners can work in the best interests of children within the boundaries of professional good conduct," Hill and colleagues write.

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