Health outcomes for Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children born preterm, low birthweight or small for gestational age: A nationwide cohort study Academic Article uri icon


  • OBJECTIVE:To examine health outcomes in Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children experiencing perinatal risk and identify protective factors in the antenatal period. METHODS:Baby/Child cohorts of the Longitudinal Study of Indigenous Children, born 2001-2008, across four annual surveys (aged 0-8 years, N = 1483). Children with 'mild' and 'moderate-to-high' perinatal risk were compared to children born normal weight at term for maternal-rated global health and disability, and body-mass-index measured by the interviewer. RESULTS:Almost one third of children had experienced mild (22%) or moderate-to-high perinatal risk (8%). Perinatal risk was associated with lower body-mass-index z-scores (regression coefficients adjusted for pregnancy and environment factors: mild = -0.21, 95% CI = -0.34, -0.07; moderate-to-high = -0.42, 95% CI = -0.63, -0.21). Moderate-to-high perinatal risk was associated with poorer global health, with associations becoming less evident in models adjusted for pregnancy and environment factors; but not evident for disability. A range of protective factors, including cultural-based resilience and smoking cessation, were associated with lower risk of adverse outcomes. CONCLUSIONS:Perinatal risks are associated with Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait children experiencing adverse health particularly lower body weight. Cultural-based resilience and smoking cessation may be two modifiable pathways to ameliorating health problems associated with perinatal risk.


  • Westrupp, Elizabeth M
  • D'Esposito, Fabrizio
  • Freemantle, Jane
  • Mensah, Fiona K
  • Nicholson, Jan M

publication date

  • 2019