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A study by Flinders University of the effect of swimming pools on ear health and hearing of school aged Indigenous children in South Australia's Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands and Yalata from 2009-2011, has found there was no direct benefit.
Flinders University Associate Professor in Audiology, Linnett Sanchez, the study's chief investigator, said, while swimming pools were ‘an incredibly important social and recreational asset', they had no effect in reducing middle ear disease - a serious, long-term condition that affects very high numbers of remote Indigenous children.
The Federally-funded study study assessed the ear health of 813 different children aged between 5 and 17 years, with a total of 2100 audiological and medical assessments conducted across 11 remote Indigenous communities, both with and without pools, twice a year during the three-year research.
The ‘whole of population' study included every child who was at school on the day the researchers visited, and was undertaken both at the end of the swimming season and at the end of winter to gauge any seasonal variations.
‘We found ear health was actually worse at the end of summer - there's no straightforward explanation for that but it has nothing to do with pools,' Associate Professor Sanchez said.
Associate Professor Sanchez said Indigenous ear health required urgent action on many fronts in Anangu communities, and more generally in remote Australia.
Source: Flinders University