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Australian Indigenous HealthBulletin Alcohol and other drugs knowledge centre Yarning Places

Skin infections send eight out of every 100 Indigenous babies in WA to hospital

Date posted: 10 January 2018

Hospital data from babies born in Western Australia (WA) between 1996 - 2012 shows that Aboriginal children had a much higher risk than non-Indigenous children of developing skin infections such as scabies and impetigo (school sores).

Telethon Kids Institute paediatric infectious diseases specialist, Dr Asha Bowen, said that eight out of every 100 Aboriginal babies were being treated for skin infections in their first year of life. 'These children require treatment in hospital to prevent the development of long-term, life threatening conditions such as kidney disease, rheumatic heart disease and blood poisoning,' said Dr Bowen. 'We know there are all sorts of issues that contribute to high rates of skin infections, including normalisation, poor infrastructure, housing and environmental health conditions, and the focus should be on addressing these issues to reduce the spread of infection.'

Dr Bowen will lead a new study called the SToP Trial throughout the Kimberley in 2018, designed to see, treat and prevent skin infections in the region's Aboriginal communities.

'In addition to the risk of developing serious health conditions, skin infections affect school attendance and childhood development, and hospital admissions are now becoming a significant burden on the health system,' said Telethon Kids Institute researcher and University of Western Australia Associate Professor, Roz Walker. 'Working alongside Aboriginal medical services to improve community-level prevention of skin infections and provide tools to help doctors and other health care workers easily recognise and treat these conditions early on is crucial.'

Source: Telethon Kids Institute


Last updated: 10 January 2018
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