Ear disease and dental decay start early.
Remote Australian Indigenous children have the highest rates of severe ear infection reported in the medical literature. Recent Northern Territory surveys report average tympanic membrane perforation rates of around 20% in Indigenous children living in remote communities. This far exceeds the rate of 4% described by the World Health Organization as a public health emergency.
Unlike most other populations described in the literature, otitis media in Australian Indigenous children has an early age of onset. It usually occurs within weeks of birth as a result of early and repeated acquisition of multiple respiratory pathogens\At any time, a significant number of young children (less than 3 years old) have a bulging eardrum (acute otitis media). Most of these children are asymptomatic.
Dental decay is another common disease of childhood. Regrettably, Australian Indigenous children have, on average, twice as many teeth affected by decay as other Australian children. The problem is especially severe in remote Aboriginal communities in the NT.
Learn more about our ear and oral health projects:
- AAAOM – What are the benefits of antibiotics in Aboriginal children with asymptomatic ear infections?
- EarInfoNet – An Ear Health and Hearing Web Resource and Network
- MICROBIOME – Microbiological Investigations of Otitis Media Ecology
- MMAPS – Mathematical modeling of bacterial carriage in children
- PE – Pneumococcal Epidemiology
- PREV-IX COMBO – A randomised controlled trial of pneumococcal conjugate vaccines Synflorix and Prevenar13 in sequence or alone in high-risk Indigenous infants (PREV-IX)
- SPINICA – Implications of nonencapsulated Strep. Pneumoniae in maintaining the high rates of pneumococcal colonisation
- STLK – Strong Teeth for Little Kids - Preventing dental decay in Aboriginal pre-school children
- VIABLE – Do respiratory viruses and bacteria explain high rates of acute otitis media with perforations