Skip to main content

First Nations and Inuit babies are hospitalized 100 per cent more often during their first year, compared with non-Indigenous infants in the province of Quebec, according to a new study published Monday in CMAJ.

Pixelistanbul/Getty Images/iStockphoto

First Nations and Inuit babies are hospitalized 100 per cent more often during their first year, compared with non-Indigenous infants in the province of Quebec, according to a new study published Monday in CMAJ.

The report found that the poor health of their mothers – who have higher rates of chronic diseases such as pre-existing diabetes, high blood pressure and kidney disease – is the root cause, says Dr. Zhong-Cheng Luo, at Sainte-Justine Hospital in Montreal.

"The excess risks of these diseases – including pregnancy complications such as gestational diabetes, gestational hypertension and preeclampsia – may be related to infant immunizations and the quality of the living environment," Dr. Zhong-Cheng co-wrote in the report, along with Dr. Hua He, Xinhua Hospital, Shanghai, China.

Story continues below advertisement

Belinda Stronach: Here's one way to improve Indigenous living standards: Break down the digital divide

They concluded that a great number of the early-age First Nations/Inuit hospitalizations could be prevented by improving health-care accessibility and education, as well as overall living conditions in these communities. "The need to improve infant immunization programs, promote breastfeeding and no smoking in the child's living environment illustrated better living conditions in these communities would have a huge impact" on infant visits to medical centres, the report concludes.

Respiratory diseases and infections are the most common causes of hospitalization.

The study included 19,700 First Nations babies, 3,930 Inuit and 225,380 non-Indigenous infants born between 1996 and 2010 in Quebec. The researchers also found First Nations and Inuit mothers are much younger than their non-Indigenous counterparts, with 22 per cent of First Nations and 27 per cent of Inuit moms under age 20. (Compared with 3.3-per-cent non-Indigenous).

The research showed Indigenous mothers are also more likely to live alone and have lower education levels than non-Indigenous mothers.

"The findings identify substantial unmet needs of Indigenous infant disease prevention and medical care," the researchers wrote in the report, funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. "There is urgent need for interventions to reduce Indigenous versus non-Indigenous infant health inequalities."

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Comments

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • All comments will be reviewed by one or more moderators before being posted to the site. This should only take a few moments.
  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed. Commenters who repeatedly violate community guidelines may be suspended, causing them to temporarily lose their ability to engage with comments.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.
Cannabis pro newsletter