Infectious disease screening in a dedicated primary care clinic for children in foster care

Sarah Lairmore, Kimberly E. Stone, Rong Huang, Jill McLeigh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Children in foster care are considered at high risk for infectious diseases, and guidelines recommend screening for tuberculosis, hepatitis B and C, syphilis, gonorrhea and chlamydia. Little is known about the prevalence of infectious disease in children in foster care. Objectives: Describe infectious disease screening practices in a primary care clinic dedicated to caring for children in foster care. Participants and setting: Patients evaluated at a foster care primary care clinic at a southwestern academic center. Methods: Retrospective chart review. Results: From January 1, 2017 through December 31, 2018, 2868 unique patients were evaluated (53 % male, 41 % white, 30 % black, 19 % Hispanic); 1638 (57 %) had any infectious disease laboratory screening done. About 50 % of children had completed screens for tuberculosis, HIV, syphilis and hepatitis C. Tuberculosis screens were positive in 3.6 % of children, 5.5 % of adolescents were positive for chlamydia and <1 % of children were positive for HIV, syphilis or hepatitis C. Increasing age and number of visits were associated with completed tuberculosis, HIV, syphilis and hepatitis C screenings (p < 0.01); female adolescents with completed labs were more likely to be screened for gonorrhea and chlamydia than male adolescents. Conclusions: Few positive infectious disease screenings were identified in children evaluated in a dedicated foster care primary care clinic despite presence of risk factors. Multiple visits to a primary care foster care clinic may increase the likelihood of completed screenings. Targeted infectious disease screening based on age and local epidemiology may be less traumatizing but still clinically appropriate.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number105074
JournalChild Abuse and Neglect
StatePublished - Jul 2021


  • Child welfare
  • Foster care
  • Laboratory screening

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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