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Health of Syrian unaccompanied asylum seeking adolescents (UASA) at first medical examination in Germany in comparison to UASA from other world regions

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BioMed Central
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Annika Laukamp, Luise Prüfer-Krämer, Florian Fischer and Alexander Krämer.

BMC International Health and Human Rights201919:5



The war in Syria has led to the biggest refugee crisis of our time. Unaccompanied asylum seeking adolescents (UASA) are a particularly vulnerable subgroup of refugees. This study aims to describe the weight status, health behaviour and disease spectrum of Syrian UASA in comparison to UASA from other world regions.


The study was conducted as a prospective cross-sectional analysis of health metrics and diagnoses from 346 UASA (78% male; mean age 16 years) between 2011 and 2017. The data was collected in an outpatient clinic for internal and tropical medicine during a systematic medical examination after arrival. Descriptive and bivariate analyses stratified by gender and region/country of origin were performed.


The general health status of the UASA in most cases was good. Compared to other UASA Syrian UASA had the highest underweight prevalence (16.7%) (p = .013) and the second highest smoking prevalence (37.9%) (p < .001). Diseases at first medical examination mostly were infections and diseases of the digestive system, with significant differences between the regions/countries of origin (p < .001; p < .001, respectively). Syrian UASA had a lower prevalence of infections (28%) and a similar prevalence of mental and behavioural problems (10.3%) than the average of all regions/countries of origin (48.6%; 11%, respectively).


Tailored screening for diseases as well as for health behaviour immediately after arrival in Germany is needed to reduce the individual burden of disease and to offer targeted preventive measures.