The Gudaga Study: Development in 3-year-old urban Aboriginal children

Authors

  • Jenny McDonald,

    1. Research Centre for Primary Health Care and Equity, Faculty of Medicine, University of New South Wales, Kensington, New South Wales, Australia
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  • Vana Webster,

    1. Research Centre for Primary Health Care and Equity, Faculty of Medicine, University of New South Wales, Kensington, New South Wales, Australia
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  • Jennifer Knight,

    Corresponding author
    1. Research Centre for Primary Health Care and Equity, Faculty of Medicine, University of New South Wales, Kensington, New South Wales, Australia
    • Correspondence: Dr Jennifer Knight, Centre for Health Equity Training Research and Evaluation, PO Box 7103, Liverpool, NSW 1871, Australia. Fax: +61 2 8738 9350; email: knightj@unsw.edu.au

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  • Elizabeth Comino

    1. Research Centre for Primary Health Care and Equity, Faculty of Medicine, University of New South Wales, Kensington, New South Wales, Australia
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  • Conflict of interest: None.

Abstract

Aim

The aim of this analysis was to study and explore factors associated with the developmental progress in urban Aboriginal children at 3 years.

Methods

The Gudaga Study is a longitudinal birth cohort study of urban Aboriginal infants. The children were assessed using the Griffiths Mental Development Scales, Extended Revised (GMDS-ER) and the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test, Fourth Edition (PPVT-IV). Student's t-tests and multiple linear regression analysis were used to test the association between developmental progress and possible risk factors.

Results

Overall, the mean general quotient (GQ) for Gudaga children was significantly lower than the standardised norm (P < 0.001). In the GMDS-ER subscales, the scores were higher than expected in the locomotor (P = 0.002) and personal–social domains (P = 0.002) and lower than expected for language (P < 0.001), eye and hand coordination (P < 0.001), performance (P < 0.001) and practical reasoning (P < 0.001). Multiple regression analysis showed that maternal age (P = 0.02) and single-mother status (P = 0.04) were significantly associated with lower performance on the GMDS-ER. The GQ was inversely proportional to the number of risk factors present (P = 0.001). The mean score of the PPVT-IV was also lower than the PPVT-IV norms (P < 0.001).

Conclusion

At 3 years, urban Aboriginal children show relative strengths in their locomotor and self-care skills and emerging delays in their language, fine motor and performance skills. Slower developmental progress was more likely in the context of young maternal age and single parenthood.

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