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        • » Are boys more vulnerable to nutritional stress? Child weight growth in a Queensland Aboriginal community (1950-1982) in comparison with the new WHO references

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Are boys more vulnerable to nutritional stress? Child weight growth in a Queensland Aboriginal community (1950-1982) in comparison with the new WHO references

by Bambrick H

Online journal article
Year 2006
Journal Australian Indigenous HealthBulletin
Volume 6
Issue 3
Source url Click here to view source url

Abstract

Background: Previous studies have universally found that Aboriginal children exhibit poor growth in relation to international references.
Objective: To determine how weight-for-age growth of children born 1950-1982 in a large Queensland Aboriginal community compare with the recent WHO international reference data, and whether girls and boys show similar patterns of growth.
Methods: Weights were obtained from clinic records for 109 children (birth to 60 months, mean=135.4 measurements). Percentiles were fitted and smoothed using cubic B-splines. Growth of girls and boys were compared with the WHO references.
Results: Girls' growth approximated WHO references, while boys' growth was generally reduced. The heaviest boys were significantly heavier than the comparison data.
Conclusions: Generalisability of the data is limited, but they suggest that young boys may be more vulnerable to sub-optimal environmental circumstances than young girls. Community growth percentiles, while not necessarily appropriate for clinical diagnosis, provide useful comparison with international data and can illustrate variation at population level.
Implications: Previous studies have found that Aboriginal children exhibit 'poor' growth overall, but this may not be the case among girls when more recent references are used for comparison. Poor growth may be apparent only among boys, perhaps reflecting greater vulnerability to nutritional and other stress. The greater variability in boys' growth and the sex differences in growth potential should further be explored in light of adult mortality
differences. These findings may be cautiously generalisable to similar communities, and perhaps useful as a descriptive baseline against which to assess future improvements in Aboriginal child health.

Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet abstract

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Last updated: 31 October 2011
 
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