Ten years after their involvement as young children in the Multicenter Bronchiectasis Study, Indigenous adolescents are still symptomatic and missing school due to acute lower respiratory infections (ALRI).
Preliminary data presented at the TSANZSRS meeting in Adelaide reinforces the importance of reducing early risk factors for chronic suppurative lung disease in children, such as prematurity and household overcrowding.
Dr Gabrielle McCallum, a postdoctoral fellow at the Menzies School of Health Research, told the conference about 67% of the original cohort of children received clinical reviews between 2015 and 2017.
“These children haven’t been involved in a study since 2010. So with a five year gap, we weren’t quite sure what we were going to find to be honest.”
Fortunately there had been no deaths and none of the children had deteriorated clinically.
“We can say that in their adolescent years, most were stable or had improved but they were still experiencing respiratory symptoms and they were having at least one acute lower respiratory infection annually.”
“Almost half of them had missed school in the last 12 months because of an ALRI. So we can see that even though they are getting older, they are still having problems and it is still impacting them.”
Dr McCallum told the limbic adolescence was typically viewed as ‘a honeymoon period’ when children seem to get better before declining in adulthood if their bronchiectasis was poorly managed.
“So this is a really important study to inform what is happening in that transition from childhood to adolescence and then into adulthood.”
“Obviously we are looking at Indigenous children in this project but while the bulk of bronchiectasis globally is among disadvantaged populations, we are still seeing non-Indigenous children having a diagnosis of bronchiectasis. It is not as rare as people think it is.”
“It’s important people are aware that lung function should be optimised in early childhood and with regular follow-up because these children will still be having ongoing symptoms as they track through into adolescence.”