Unfortunately, many Indigenous children face chronic ear infections, respiratory problems, anaemia, skin sores and other health issues in their earliest years. Not only do these medical problems have a direct impact on a child’s health, they also affect their ability to grow, develop and learn.
Our work investigates how we can improve the health of Indigenous children so they can have the best start in life.
- In the Northern Territory (NT), 15 per cent of pregnant women and up to 25 per cent of children aged 0-5 years are anaemic. 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.
- Nine out of ten young Indigenous children who live in remote communities have some form of ear disease, and currently one in six has burst eardrum(s). Long-term middle ear damage causes hearing loss, which impacts on the development of speech and language, and is linked to educational disadvantage and behavioural problems.
- Australia has one of the highest rates of acute rheumatic fever (ARF) and rheumatic heart disease (RHD) in the world. Indigenous people are up to eight times more likely than other groups to be hospitalised and nearly 20 times as likely to die from this disease.