Total population investigation of dental hospitalizations in Indigenous children under five years in Western Australia using linked data

Authors

  • LM Slack-Smith,

    1. School of Dentistry, The University of Western Australia, Crawley, Western Australia.
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  • AW Read,

    1. Centre for Child Health Research, The University of Western Australia, Telethon Institute for Child Health Research, Subiaco, Western Australia.
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  • LJ Colvin,

    1. School of Population Health, The University of Western Australia, Crawley, Western Australia.
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  • H Leonard,

    1. Centre for Child Health Research, The University of Western Australia, Telethon Institute for Child Health Research, Subiaco, Western Australia.
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  • N Kilpatrick,

    1. Oral Health Research, Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, Parkville, Victoria.
    2. School of Oral and Dental Science, University of Bristol, Bristol, United Kingdom.
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  • D McAullay,

    1. Centre for Child Health Research, The University of Western Australia, Telethon Institute for Child Health Research, Subiaco, Western Australia.
    2. Kurongkurl Katitjin, Centre for Indigenous Australian Education and Research, Faculty of Education and Arts, Edith Cowan University, Perth, Western Australia.
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  • LB Messer

    1. Melbourne Dental School, The University of Melbourne, Victoria.
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Professor Linda Slack-Smith
Oral Epidemiology
School of Dentistry M512
The University of Western Australia
35 Stirling Highway
Crawley WA 6009
Email: linda.slack-smith@uwa.edu.au

Abstract

Background:  The aim of this study was to compare dental hospital admissions in a total state birth population of Indigenous and non-Indigenous children aged under five years in Western Australia.

Methods:  Midwives’ notification data were linked to databases of deaths, admissions, birth defects and intellectual disability. Births during 1980–1995 were followed until five years of age (n = 383 665). Dental admissions were classified by ICD-9 principal diagnosis categories.

Results:  There were 738 dental admissions for 665 children aged up to five years of Indigenous mothers (n = 20 921). Indigenous children comprised 6.3% of all children having a dental admission in this age group; 3.2% of children with Indigenous mothers had a dental admission compared with 2.7% of non-Indigenous children. Overall, 8.7% (n = 58) of Indigenous children with a dental admission had a birth defect and 5.5% (n = 23) had an intellectual disability (compared to 8.8% and 3.2%). Indigenous children were four times more likely to be diagnosed with oral soft tissue diseases than non-Indigenous children, and less likely to be categorized as having diseases of the dental hard tissues. Indigenous children were more likely to have a longer dental admission.

Conclusions:  These analyses provide important findings regarding hospital admissions for Indigenous children. Admissions for disorders of the soft tissues are more common in Indigenous children.

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