Respiratory health profile of Indigenous Australian children and young adults

Tamara L. Blake, Anne Chang, Julie Marchant, Margaret S. McElrea

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


    Aim: National data report respiratory illness to be the most common chronic illness in Australian Indigenous people aged <35 years but multi‐centre data on specific diseases is sparse. Respiratory health is now known to be an independent predictor of future all‐cause mortality and cardiovascular disease. We aimed to describe the respiratory health profile (clinical and spirometry data) of randomly recruited Indigenous Australian children and young adults from several sites.

    Methods: As part of the Indigenous Respiratory Reference Values study, 1278 Australian Indigenous children and young adults (aged 3–25 years) were recruited from nine communities (Queensland, n = 8; Northern Territory, n = 1). Self‐reported and medical records were used to ascertain respiratory history. Participants were classified as ‘healthy’ if there was no current/previous respiratory disease history. Spirometry was performed on all participants and assessed according to forced expiratory volume at 1 s impairment.

    Results: Medical history data were available for 1245 (97.4%) and spirometry for 1106 participants (86.5%). Asthma and bronchitis were the most commonly reported respiratory conditions (city/regional 19.5% and rural/remote 16.8%, respectively). Participants with a history of any respiratory disease or those living in rural/remote communities had lower lung function compared to the ‘healthy’ group. Almost 52.0% of the entire cohort had mild–moderate forced expiratory volume at 1 s impairment (47.7% in ‘healthy’ group, 58.5% in ‘respiratory history’ group).

    Conclusion: The high prevalence of poor respiratory health among Indigenous Australian children/young adults places them at increased risk of future all‐cause mortality and cardiovascular disease. Respiratory assessments including spirometry should be part of the routine evaluation of Indigenous Australians.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1-6
    Number of pages6
    JournalJournal of Paediatrics and Child Health
    Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 24 Feb 2020


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