Hospitalisation of Indigenous children in the Northern Territory for lower respiratory illness in the first year of life

Kerry-Ann O'Grady, Paul Torzillo, Anne Chang

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Objective: To describe the epidemiology of acute lower respiratory infection (ALRI) and bronchiectasis in Northern Territory Indigenous infants hospitalised in the first year of life.

    Design: A historical cohort study constructed from the NT Hospital Discharge Dataset and the NT Immunisation Register. Participants and setting: All NT resident Indigenous infants, born 1 January 1999 to 31 December 2004, admitted to NT public hospitals and followed up to 12 months of age.

    Main outcome measures:
    Incidence of ALRI and bronchiectasis (ICD-10-AM codes) and radiologically confirmed pneumonia (World Health Organization protocol).

    Results: Data on 9295 infants, 8498 child-years of observation and 15 948 hospitalised episodes of care were analysed. ALRI incidence was 426.7 episodes per 1000 child-years (95% CI, 416.2-437.2). Incidence rates were two times higher (relative risk, 2.12; 95% CI, 1.98-2.27) for infants in Central Australia compared with those in the Top End. The median age at first admission for an ALRI was 4.6 months (interquartile range, 2.6-7.3). Bronchiolitis accounted for most of the disease burden, with a rate of 227 per 1000 child-years. The incidence of first diagnosis of bronchiectasis was 1.18 per 1000 child-years (95% CI, 0.60-2.16). One or more key comorbidities were present in 1445 of the 3227 (44.8%) episodes of care for ALRI.

    Conclusions: Rates of ALRI and bronchiectasis in NT Indigenous infants are excessive, with early onset, frequent repeat episodes, and a high prevalence of comorbidities. These high rates of disease demand urgent attention.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)586-590
    Number of pages5
    JournalMedical Journal of Australia
    Issue number10
    Publication statusPublished - 17 May 2010


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