Under-nutrition Affects Time to Recurrence of Gastroenteritis among Aboriginal and Non-Aboriginal Children

Andy H. Lee, Michael Gracey, Kui Wang, Kelvin K.W. Yau


This study investigated whether under-nutrition affected time to hospitalization for recurrence of gastroenteritis in Australian children. Linked hospitalization records of all infants, born in 1995 and 1996 in Western Australia, who were admitted for gastroenteritis during their first year of life (n=1,001), were retrieved. A survival frailty model was used for determining the factors influencing the recurrent times over the subsequent seven years. Aboriginality and under-nutrition were significantly associated with an increased risk of recurrence (hazard ratios of 2.59 and 1.28). Hospitalizations due to gastroenteritis were common among Aboriginal children who had a higher mean re-admission rate and much shorter intervals between re-admissions than other patients. The proportion of patients with recurrence was also significantly higher for Aboriginals (38.5%) than for other patients (14.2%). Gastroenteritis remains a serious problem in Aboriginal children. This presents a complex challenge to be addressed with public-health principles, political determination and commitment, and adequate resources.

Key words:   Gastroenteritis; Diarrhoea, Infantile; Aborigines; Infant nutrition disorders; Retrospective studies; Cohort studies; Australia

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