A healthier start for Indigenous kids

Dec 22 2011

A unique longitudinal study of Indigenous women hopes to address the disparities in the long-term health implications of renal disease between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people.

An extension of the Gomeroi gaaynggal – Gomeroi Babies program, the study will give researchers an understanding of the relationship between maternal and pre-natal health and post-natal child health.

Indigenous women are twice as likely as non-Indigenous women to give birth prematurely. Indigenous babies are 40 times more likely to have renal problems.

Gomeroi Babies tracked the pregnancies of Indigenous women in Tamworth, recording the nutritional status, immunological profile and renal functioning of participating mothers and the ultrasound profile of unborn baby’s kidneys through gestation.

The latest study will follow up with the mothers and babies and provide valuable data measuring the impact of the program in improving the health and wellbeing of Indigenous children.

Project Coordinator Dr Kym Rae said it would be the world’s first pregnancy-through-early childhood study of Indigenous people.

“The 2010 Gomeroi Babies project collected data on the health of Indigenous babies as they grew and developed in the uterus,” Dr Rae said.

“This follow-up study offers a unique opportunity to further understand what leads to renal disease and diabetes, identify those at high risk and ensure treatment is available as early as possible.”

Funded by a $1.6 million grant from the National Health and Medical Research Council, the study aimed to help better identify children at high risk of developing diabetes and kidney disease. The Thyne Reid Foundation assisted with the initial project grant in 2008, through HMRI.

The project will be based at the Gomeroi gaaynggal Centre in Tamworth and is part of the University’s Mothers and Babies Research Centre and the Hunter Medical Research Institute’s (HMRI) Pregnancy and Reproduction Research Program.

HMRI is a partnership between the University of Newcastle, Hunter New England Local Health District and the community.