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Child and Maternal Health

Child and maternal health

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are twice as likely to die before their fifth birthday as other Australian children. Their mothers also have less access to antenatal and postnatal services, and are less likely to use services when they are available.

A collaborative and international study of Bronchiectasis in Indigenous children

Aboriginal children in remote Australia have extremely high rates of pneumonia; some get better while others develop bronchiectasis (a chronic suppurative lung disease characterised by chronic wet cough). This study, which is being carried out internationally in New Zealand, Alaska and Australia, will be visiting communities in Central Australia and the Top End.

A Framework for Developing Standard Operating Procedures for Pre-licensure Vaccine Trials in the Northern Territory

The authors of this paper have developed a manual for those involved in preparing implementation plans for industry-sponsored paediatric vaccine trials, particularly those in the pre-licensure phases. The manual provides a framework for the development of Standard Operating Procedures for any particular trial, taking account of the core requirements of vaccine trials and the steps which must be taken through all stages of a study.

A Regional Initiative to Reduce Skin Infections amongst Aboriginal Children Living in Remote Communities of the Northern Territory, Australia

Background: Linked to extreme rates of chronic heart and kidney disease, pyoderma is endemic amongst Aboriginal children in Australia’s Northern Territory (NT). Many of those with pyoderma will also have scabies. We report the results of a  community-based collaboration within the East Arnhem Region, which aimed to reduce the prevalence of both skin infections in Aboriginal children.

A Review of the Impact of Antenatal Care Services for Australian Indigenous Women and Attempts to Strengthen these Services

Objectives  To review evaluations of changes in the delivery of antenatal care for Australian Indigenous women and the impact on care utilization and quality, birth outcomes and women’s views about care.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander maternal and child health and wellbeing: a systematic search of programs and services in Australian primary health care settings

Persistent disparities in pregnancy and birth outcomes between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and other Australians evidence a need to prioritise responsive practice in Maternal Child Health (MCH). This study reviewed the existing knowledge output on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander MCH programs and services with the objective to advance understanding of the current evidence base and inform MCH service development, including the identification of new research priorities.


Aboriginal women's perinatal needs, experiences and maternity services: A literature review to enable considerations to be made about quality indicators

The overall direction of this review has been on antenatal care, along with preconception, labour, birth and postpartum care in terms of Australian Aboriginal women and the Australian health system. Literature from beyond these perspectives, primary health care and cultural context, has also been included where it has been of relevance and/or consequence.

Accurate data key to improving child health

A ground-breaking report, The History of Indigenous identification in Victorian Health Datasets, 1980–2011: Initiatives and Policies Reported by Key Informants, was launched this week at Onemda VicHealth Koori Health Unit at the University of Melbourne. The report provides a comprehensive review of the initiatives that have been undertaken, predominately within Victoria since 1980, to improve the accuracy and completeness of Indigenous identification in statutory and administrative data sets.

Better housing, but overcrowding stymies child health benefits: Study

A recently published paper looking at how improved housing for Indigenous families living in remote communities impacts on child health has found that, while hygienic conditions did improve, pervasive and persistent  high levels of crowding and poor social and environmental conditions meant there was no measurable improvement in the health of children in those communities.

Birthweight Changes in the Pilot Phase of the Strong Women Strong Babies Strong Culture Program in the Northern Territory


The Strong Women Strong Babies Strong Culture Program had specific goals to increase infant birthweights by earlier attendance for antenatal care and improved maternal weight status. Starting in August 1993, Aboriginal women in three pilot communities worked with pregnant women in a program that emphasised both traditional practices and Western medicine. Method: Two sources of data were used to examine different aspects of program effects.

Burden of influenza and other respiratory viruses among Aboriginal children in the Top End

Aboriginal infants in the Northern Territory suffer from the highest rate of influenza morbidity in the world. This project aims to define the exact burden of severe influenza and other respiratory viruses by prospectively studying Aboriginal children admitted to hospital and using the best available methods to determine the cause of illness.

Can swimming pools improve Indigenous children's hearing?

Middle ear infections (otitis media) have serious short and long-term consequences for Indigenous people living in remote communities. They commonly cause significant hearing loss, which affects children’s education and social development, and, in turn, has serious implications for vocational opportunities and mental health. This new research project builds on a program of hearing assessment for school-age children in the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yunkunytjatjara Lands (APY) and Tjarutja lands.

Child and maternal health initiatives

A number of initiatives are being developed in this key research area, including Roundtables in October and March 2012 and a Quality Assurance workshop in August.

Child and Maternal Health Roundtable identifies priorities

Some 40 people attended the Lowitja Institute National Roundtable on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child and Maternal Health Research: Priorities for Interventions, which was held in Melbourne on 8 March 2012.

Child and Maternal Health roundtable participants

Child and Maternal Health Roundtable: Priorities for Interventions

Some 40 people attended the Roundtable (held on 8 March 2012 in Melbourne) including representatives from the Aboriginal community controlled health sector, government agencies, universities and research institutes. The discussions led to the development of a set of strategies and recommendations to address the key issues and knowledge ‘gaps’ identified by the Roundtable, grouped by the following themes:

Childhood Anaemia – Knowledge and resource development project

Childhood anaemia is a growing concern in the Northern Territory as 22 per cent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children under four years old are reported to be anaemic. Childhood anaemia can have detrimental effects on physical and cognitive development in the early years and has long‐term implications for the development of chronic diseases later in life. Consultations with service providers and policy makers identified childhood anaemia as a key area for investigation.

Childhood Infections in the Tropical North of Australia

In the tropical north of Australia there are high rates of infections in Aboriginal children living in remote communities. In addition to the burden of respiratory infections, diarrhoeal disease and skin sepsis, there are high rates of acute rheumatic fever, outbreaks of poststreptococcal glomerulonephritis and gonococcal conjunctivitis, endemic trachoma and various intestinal parasites. A number of infections generally restricted to the tropics are also present and can cause disease in both indigenous and non-indigenous children.

Community action to promote child growth in Gapuwiyak

Small Aboriginal babies and babies who do not grow well are a serious health issue in the Northern Territory. In 1998 the Territory Health Services (now the Department of Health and Community Services (DHCS)) began implementing a new child growth initiative, the Growth Assessment and Action (GAA) program. The program sought to achieve growth monitoring and promotion (GMP), standardise primary healthcare practices and improve the growth of Northern Territory children aged between zero and five years.

Community action to promote child growth in Gapuwiyak: Final report on a participatory action research project

This report describes the Improving Child Growth in the Northern Territory Project No. 1. The Department of Health and Community Services initiated this participatory action research project with funding from the Cooperative Research Centre for Aboriginal and Tropical Health. The project was conducted using a community development approach over a two and a half year period, from 2000 to 2002, in the remote north-east Arnhem Land community of Gapuwiyak.

Context, Diversity and Engagement: Early intervention with Australian Aboriginal families in urban and remote contexts

This article describes challenges met implementing an early intervention programme for Aboriginal parents and their children in the NT (Northern Territory) of Australia in the context of efforts to remediate Aboriginal disadvantage. The intervention is an adaptation of an 8- to 10-week, manualised parenting programme designed for four- to six-year-old children with behavioural difficulties. It was implemented for both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal children in urban Darwin and for Aboriginal children in three communities of the Tiwi Islands, near Darwin.


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