• Australian Aborigines;
  • children;
  • gastroenteritis;
  • gastrointestinal infections;
  • infants

Objective:  To retrospectively examine rates of hospitalization of infants and children in Western Australia for gastroenteritis from 1994 through 2000.

Methodology:  Analysis of hospital separations data from the Hospital Morbidity Data System of the Department of Health, Western Australia.

Results:  Rates of hospitalization of Aboriginal infants and children for gastroenteritis from 1994 to 2000 in Western Australia were approximately seven times higher than for their non-Aboriginal peers. This was despite some decline in Aboriginal hospitalization rates over the study period. This may have been due to a simultaneous decline in hospital admissions of non-Aboriginal infants and children. Rates of hospitalization of Aboriginal infants and children were much higher in non-metropolitan rather than in metropolitan regions. There was a remarkable fall in the deaths of Aboriginal infants and children from gastroenteritis between 1970 and 2000. There were no deaths recorded in Western Australian hospitals from this disease from 1990 to 2000.