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Institute News
A study looking at how Aboriginal children use English at school is among the projects to be showcased at an Indigenous health conference in Melbourne on Monday, 24th September. Former Governor-General Quentin Bryce will join the discussion at the Indigenous health research symposium. The one-day conference will focus on eight innovative health projects involving partnerships between Aboriginal communities, health services and researchers, including the study of children’s language development. Murdoch Children’s Research Institute’s (MCRI) Professor Stephanie Brown, the Lead Researcher for the study, said that prior to European settlement, there were at least 250 distinct Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander language groups and multilingualism was the norm for children. “Our research is charting new ground in understanding how early-life social and cultural experiences shape Aboriginal children’s language development and use of oral language in early primary school,” Prof Brown said. Researchers at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute are following up...
Research News
Australian researchers have partnered with researchers in the Solomon Islands to advance the fight against neglected tropical diseases in the Pacific by proving that it is possible to safely treat large populations for trachoma and scabies simultaneously. For the study an entire population (26,000-plus) in the Choiseul Province of Solomon Islands was given antibiotics to treat these highly infectious neglected tropical diseases. The research, a collaboration between Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI), the Kirby Institute at UNSW Sydney, the Solomon Islands Ministry of Health and Medical Services, and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine is published in the latest issue of Lancet Global Health. Professor Andrew Steer, from the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute and the University of Melbourne, said administering the two antibiotics together had significant advantages – reducing costs and the burden on health services and the community; and ultimately leading to better disease control. “We know...
Research News
Distinct brain patterns can help explain variations in the way children present with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), paving a course towards improved treatment and support for the common neurodevelopmental disorder. Using neuroimaging techniques, The Children’s Attention Project, run at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI), found that certain patterns across the whole brain appear to be linked to ADHD symptoms, development and cognition. The findings, published online in the American Journal of Psychiatry , suggest that the different ways ADHD presents in children may stem from a combination of factors that have specific biological foundations in the brain. Lead investigator Associate Professor Tim Silk from Deakin University’s School of Psychology said that to improve treatments or predict the likely progression of ADHD it is important to understand what is happening in the brain. “We still don’t know what the underlying mechanisms are in ADHD, but it is quite clear...
Research News
Clinicians need to ask questions about drinking in pregnancy to ensure cases of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) are properly diagnosed, a Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI) expert has warned. Speaking ahead of an International FASD Awareness Day event on 13 September, MCRI Principal Research Fellow and University of Melbourne Honorary Professor of Paediatrics Jane Halliday described the disorder as a hidden condition. “People can find it difficult to ask about alcohol use in pregnancy because of all the blame and stigma associated with putting a diagnosis of FASD on a child,” Prof. Halliday said. “Diagnosis is so important, not only to better support the child, but also to support and inform the mother and family and reduce the risk of it recurring in future pregnancies if drinking continues.” More than 240 clinicians, service providers, researchers, carers and families have registered to attend the International FASD Awareness Day event, which...
Research News
Assisted ventilation is crucial to support very preterm babies, however the treatment often leads to chronic lung disease. While the survival of preterm babies has increased over the past 30 years, rates of chronic lung disease have remained static. Now a team of researchers has found the type of injury caused by ventilation depends on the gestational age of the lungs. The findings, published today in the journal Scientific Reports, suggest individualised respiratory support could reduce risks to infants. In the animal study, researchers led by Dr Prue Pereira-Fantini and A/Prof David Tingay of Murdoch Children’s Research Institute in collaboration with researchers from the University of Melbourne and Royal Women’s Hospital mapped protein changes in blood plasma following ventilation of lambs born at term, preterm (less than 32 weeks) and very preterm (less than 26 weeks). Dr Pereira-Fantini said that understanding what happened at a molecular level when lung injury...
Research News
Children as young as eight are vulnerable to poor body image as hormone levels rise with the onset of puberty, a new study has found. Dr Elizabeth Hughes, the lead author and a research fellow from the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI) and the University of Melbourne, said the study explored a link between hormones and body satisfaction in young pre-pubescent children for the first time. The study is based on data from more than 1,100 eight- to nine-year-old girls and boys in Melbourne, collected for MCRI’s Childhood to Adolescence Transition Study. The research, ‘Body Image Dissatisfaction and the Adrenarchal Transition’ is published in the latest issue of the Journal of Adolescent Health. Dr Hughes said the study clearly indicated that there was a need for strategies in schools and at home to help children maintain a positive body image prior to the onset of puberty. She said the study...
Research News
Melbourne’s Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, in partnership with Harvard Medical School, has discovered that adolescent health programs across the developing world receive only a tiny share of international aid, even though young people make up 30 per cent of the population of low-income countries. Published in JAMA Network Open, researchers from the US and Australia examined how much international donors spent on youth health projects in 132 low-income countries over the 14 years from 2003 to 2015. (89 per cent of the world’s adolescents live in low and middle income countries.) Co-author University of Melbourne Prof George Patton, from MCRI’s Centre for Adolescent Health, said the research found that only 1.6 per cent of global investments in health over those 14 years were spent on projects for adolescents even though adolescents account for 12 to 13 per cent of disease burden in the developing world. “Of the little invested, most...
Research News
In a world-first project, a Murdoch Children’s Research Institute autism specialist will use brain imaging to better understand toddlers who show typical development before losing skills and being diagnosed with autism. MCRI researchers are running a Loss of Skills project, which seeks to explain why some children develop typically in the first two years of life, but then experience severe and rapid loss of skills, including speech, over just a few weeks. The Loss of Skills project already uses behavioural assessments, biological samples and genetic testing to make sense of this sudden skill loss, but speech pathologist and MCRI post-doctoral research fellow Veronica Rose will help introduce neuroimaging to the project. Melbourne-based autism awareness and fundraising charity BioAutism has awarded Dr Rose an Integrative Fellowship, committing $100,000 over three years so that Dr Rose can gain skills in neuroimaging from another research group led by MCRI developmental neuroscientist Dr Marc...
Research News
Everyone has an opinion on infant colic. But what new parents really need is reassurance and facts. In the latest issue of Australian Prescriber, Murdoch Children’s Research Institute research fellow Dr Valerie Sung discusses the latest thinking on colic, one of the most common conditions experienced by babies under four months of age. While colic is considered benign and self-resolving, it can have significant impacts on the family. “Colic is one of the most common presentations to primary health care in a baby’s first months of life,” says Dr Sung who is also a Royal Children’s Hospital paediatrician. “It has adverse associations including maternal depression, child abuse and early cessation of breastfeeding.” Physiological and psychosocial factors are thought to lie behind the condition, but none are definitive according to the article. Dr Sung discusses the latest management options for colic, such as ruling out organic causes of crying, offering parents...
Institute News
North Western Melbourne Primary Health Network today launched a new campaign hoping to encourage more parents to vaccinate their babies and toddlers to help protect them and others in the community from potentially life-threatening disease. ‘It’s time to immunise Melbourne’ is directly targeted at helping parents to remember that when their babies are aged between 12 to 18-months, it’s still a vital time for them to stay on track with their immunisations. Nearly 95 per cent of parents in Melbourne’s north and west are fully immunising their newborns, but this drops to just over 90 per cent for the vaccines given between 12 to 18 months. Murdoch Children's Research Institute immunisation expert and Royal Children’s Hospital paediatrician, Dr Margie Danchin, said our busy lives make it all too easy to miss vital immunisations. “Vaccination is lower for these age groups because in the second year of life parents may be...