BMC pediatrics 2017 11 2217(1) 195 doi 10.1186/s12887-017-0947-0
We analysed hospital admissions of a predominantly Aboriginal cohort of children in the remote Fitzroy Valley in Western Australia during the first 7 years of life.
All children born between January 1, 2002 and December 31, 2003 and living in the Fitzroy Valley in 2009-2010 were eligible to participate in the Lililwan Project. Of 134 eligible children, 127 (95%) completed Stage 1 (interviews of caregivers and medical record review) in 2011 and comprised our cohort. Lifetime (0-7 years) hospital admission data were available and included the dates, and reasons for admission, and comorbidities. Conditions were coded using ICD-10-AM discharge codes.
Of the 127 children, 95.3% were Indigenous and 52.8% male. There were 314 admissions for 424 conditions in 89 (70.0%) of 127 children. The 89 children admitted had a median of five admissions (range 1-12). Hospitalization rates were similar for both genders (p = 0.4). Of the admissions, 108 (38.6%) were for 56 infants aged <12 months (median = 2.5, range = 1-8). Twelve of these admissions were in neonates (aged 0-28 days). Primary reasons for admission (0-7 years) were infections of the lower respiratory tract (27.4%), gastrointestinal system (22.7%), and upper respiratory tract (11.4%), injury (7.0%), and failure to thrive (5.4%). Comorbidities, particularly upper respiratory tract infections (18.1%), failure to thrive (13.6%), and anaemia (12.7%), were common. In infancy, primary cause for admission were infections of the lower respiratory tract (40.8%), gastrointestinal (25.9%) and upper respiratory tract (9.3%). Comorbidities included upper respiratory tract infections (33.3%), failure to thrive (18.5%) and anaemia (18.5%). CONCLUSION
In the Fitzroy Valley 70.0% of children were hospitalised at least once before age 7 years and over one third of admissions were in infants. Infections were the most common reason for admission in all age groups but comorbidities were common and may contribute to need for admission. Many hospitalizations were feasibly preventable. High admission rates reflect disadvantage, remote location and limited access to primary healthcare and outpatient services. Ongoing public health prevention initiatives including breast feeding, vaccination, healthy diet, hygiene and housing improvements are crucial, as is training of Aboriginal Health Workers to increase services in remote communities.