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1.  Primary healthcare costs associated with sleep problems up to age 7 years: Australian population-based study 
BMJ Open  2013;3(5):e002419.
In Australian 0–7-year olds with and without sleep problems, to compare (1) type and costs to government of non-hospital healthcare services and prescription medication in each year of age and (2) the cumulative costs according to persistence of the sleep problem.
Cross-sectional and longitudinal data from a longitudinal population study.
Data from two cohorts participating in the first two waves of the nationally representative Longitudinal Study of Australian Children.
Baby cohort at ages 0–1 and 2–3 (n=5107, 4606) and Kindergarten cohort at ages 4–5 and 6–7 (n=4983, 4460).
Federal Government expenditure on healthcare attendances and prescription medication from birth to 8 years, calculated via linkage to Australian Medicare data, were compared according to parent report of child sleep problems at each of the surveys.
At both waves and in both cohorts, over 92% of children had both sleep and Medicare data. The average additional healthcare costs for children with sleep problems ranged from $141 (age 5) to $43 (age 7), falling to $98 (age 5) to $18 (age 7) per child per annum once family socioeconomic position, child gender, global health and special healthcare needs were taken into account. This equates to an estimated additional $27.5 million (95% CI $9.2 to $46.8 million) cost to the Australian federal government every year for all children aged between 0 and 7 years. In both cohorts, costs were higher for persistent than transient sleep problems.
Higher healthcare costs were sustained by infants and children with sleep problems. This supports ongoing economic evaluations of early prevention and intervention services for sleep problems considering impacts not only on the child and family but also on the healthcare system.
PMCID: PMC3669719  PMID: 23793661
Sleep Medicine
2.  The effectiveness of walking as an intervention for low back pain: a systematic review 
European Spine Journal  2010;19(10):1613-1620.
As current low back pain (LBP) guidelines do not specifically advocate walking as an intervention, this review has explored for the effectiveness of walking in managing acute and chronic LBP. CINAHL, Medline, AMED, EMBASE, PubMed, Cochrane and Scopus databases, as well as a hand search of reference lists of retrieved articles, were searched. The search was restricted to studies in the English language. Studies were included when walking was identified as an intervention. Four studies met inclusion criteria, and were assessed with a quality checklist. Three lower ranked studies reported a reduction in LBP from a walking intervention, while the highest ranked study observed no effect. Heterogeneity of study design made it difficult to draw comparisons between studies. There is only low–moderate evidence for walking as an effective intervention strategy for LBP. Further investigation is required to investigate the strength of effect for walking as a primary intervention in the management of acute and chronic LBP.
PMCID: PMC2989236  PMID: 20414688
Low back pain; Walking; Systematic review; Intervention
3.  Prevention of mental health problems: rationale for a universal approach 
Background and objective
Mental health problems are a public health issue affecting as many as 20% of children in modern communities. Risk factors for externalising and internalising problems can occur in infancy. Infants at high risk live in stressed families with parent mental health problems, substance misuse, relationship conflict, social isolation, financial problems or infant temperamental difficulty. Although current prevention programmes target services to high‐risk groups, targeting can stigmatise families and miss many children in need. The addition of universal prevention programmes for all families could address these concerns. This survey assessed the prevalence of infants at risk attending a primary care service as a delivery point for universal prevention.
Survey of mothers of 6‐month‐old infants attending well‐child clinics across six government areas of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, between August and September 2004. A brief survey measured sociodemographic characteristics and the following family risks: maternal depression, anxiety, stress, substance misuse, violence at home, social isolation and infant temperamental difficulty.
The survey was completed by 733 mothers, representing 69% of infant births presented to the primary care service. Of these, 39% of infants were classified as at risk for developing mental health problems. The percentage of infants classified as at risk was not markedly dissimilar across socioeconomic levels (low, 42%; middle, 40%; high, 35%).
A substantial number of infants attending routine universal primary care are at risk of developing mental health problems. This primary care setting could provide an ideal platform for preventing early externalising and internalising problems via a universally offered, evidence‐based parenting programme.
PMCID: PMC2083132  PMID: 16920756
4.  The contribution of GJB2 mutations to slight or mild hearing loss in Australian elementary school children 
Journal of Medical Genetics  2006;43(11):850-855.
Background: There is a lack of information on prevalence, cause and consequences of slight/mild bilateral sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL) in children. We report the first systematic genetic analysis of the GJB2 gene in a population‐derived sample of children with slight/mild bilateral SNHL.
Methods: Hearing tests were conducted in 6240 Australian elementary school children in Grades 1 and 5. 55 children (0.88%) were found to have a slight/mild sensorineural hearing loss. 48 children with slight/mild sensorineural hearing loss and a matched group of 90 children with normal hearing participated in a genetic study investigating mutations in the GJB2 gene, coding for connexin 26, and the presence of the del(GJB6‐D13S1830) and del(GJB6‐D13S1854) deletions in the GJB6 gene, coding for connexin 30.
Results: Four of 48 children with slight/mild sensorineural hearing loss were homozygous for the GJB2 V37I change. The four children with homozygous V37I mutations were all of Asian background and analysis of SNPs in or near the GJB2 gene suggests that the V37I mutation arose from a single mutational event in the Asian population.
Discussion: Based on the prevalence of carriers of this change we conclude that V37I can be a causative mutation that is often associated with slight/mild sensorineural hearing loss. No other children in the slight/mild hearing loss group had a hearing loss related to a GJB2 mutation. One child with normal hearing was homozygous for the R127H change and we conclude that this change does not cause hearing loss. Two children of Asian background were carriers of the V37I mutation. Our data indicate that slight/mild sensorineural hearing loss due to the GJB2 V37I mutation is common in people of Asian background.
PMCID: PMC2563186  PMID: 16840571
5.  Enhancing the ethical conduct of genetic research: investigating views of parents on including their healthy children in a study on mild hearing loss 
Journal of Medical Ethics  2006;32(9):537-541.
Clinical genetic research is often regarded as more ethically problematic than other forms of research, and in some countries is subject to specific regulation, requiring researchers to follow specialised guidelines. In this paper, an approach to enhancing the ethical conduct of genetic research is proposed, which is believed to be more effective than simply attempting to follow general guidelines. The potential concerns, likely areas of misunderstanding and negative reactions of the participant group are systematically investigated before starting a study on genetics. This would constitute, in effect, an ethical pilot study, similar to a feasibility pilot study to test equipment, procedures and logistics. The findings of the ethical pilot study would be used to help in designing ethically important aspects of research protocol, such as recruitment procedures, written and other information for potential participants, informed consent processes and reporting of results including ambiguous or uncertain results.
PMCID: PMC2563404  PMID: 16943337
6.  Hearing impairment: a population study of age at diagnosis, severity, and language outcomes at 7–8 years 
Archives of Disease in Childhood  2005;90(3):238-244.
Background: Better language outcomes are reported for preschool children with hearing impairment (HI) diagnosed very early, irrespective of severity. However, population studies of older children are required to substantiate longer term benefits of early detection.
Aims: To study impact of age of diagnosis and severity of HI in a population cohort of 7–8 year old children.
Methods: Eighty eight 7–8 year old children born in Victoria, who were (a) fitted with hearing aids for congenital HI by 4.5 years and (b) did not have intellectual or major physical disability were studied. Main outcome measures were Clinical Evaluation of Language Fundamentals (CELF) and Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test (PPVT). Predictors were pure tone average (0.5, 1, 2 kHz) in better ear at diagnosis and age at diagnosis. Marginal (adjusted) means were estimated with general linear models.
Results: Response rate was 67% (n = 89; 53 boys). Mean age at diagnosis was 21.6 months (SD 14.4); 21% had mild, 34% moderate, 21% severe, and 24% profound HI; mean non-verbal IQ was 104.6 (SD 16.7). Mean total CELF score was 76.7 (SD 21.4) and mean PPVT score 78.1 (SD 18.1). Age of diagnosis, adjusted for severity and IQ, did not contribute to language scores. In contrast, adjusted mean CELF and PPVT language scores fell sequentially with increasing severity of HI.
Conclusions: More severe HI, but not later diagnosis, was strongly related to poorer language outcomes at 7–8 years. Further systematic study is needed to understand why children with hearing impairment have good or poor outcomes.
PMCID: PMC1720307  PMID: 15723906
7.  Qualitative analysis of parents' experience with early detection of hearing loss 
Archives of Disease in Childhood  2004;89(4):353-358.
Aims: To determine key themes from parents' comments on paths to diagnosis and intervention for their children with hearing loss, following introduction of at-risk neonatal hearing screening and modification of distraction test screening for infants not at-risk.
Methods: Parents of children born in 1993 in Victoria, Australia, who were eligible for screening via the Victorian Infant Hearing Screening Program and who were subsequently diagnosed with a permanent congenital hearing loss and fitted with hearing aids prior to the year 2000 were asked to complete a semi-structured questionnaire shortly after aid fitting. Two researchers independently analysed parent comments using the constant comparative method.
Results: Parents of 82 children (61%) replied to the questionnaire. Themes analysis revealed a generally positive response to neonatal ABR screening, with a mixed response to the distraction test; powerful emotions experienced by parents at diagnosis including denial and shock; frustration arising from delays in diagnosis, and communication difficulties with providers. Special difficulties testing children with other medical and developmental problems, confusion about tympanostomy tube insertion, and difficulty with wearing hearing aids were also reported. Some children had experienced problems in the school setting. Experience of post-diagnostic services was generally positive.
Conclusions: Parents need greater support both during the testing of screen failures and at the time of diagnosis. Providers need more training in how to communicate findings to parents, particularly at times when parents are experiencing strong emotions. Parents need more strategies to enable hearing aid wearing in very young children. Some children with additional medical, developmental, and behavioural problems need specialised approaches to testing.
PMCID: PMC1719881  PMID: 15033847
8.  Alveolar bone grafting: achieving the organisational standards determined by CSAG, a baseline audit at the Birmingham Children's Hospital. 
INTRODUCTION: Birmingham Children's Hospital (BCH) is the centre for a regional comprehensive cleft service attempting to implement the national guidelines for minimum standards of care. A national audit of cleft management (CSAG) found that 58% of alveolar bone grafts were successful; published series suggest that success rates can be of the order of 95%. We present the results of an audit of alveolar bone grafting over a 33-month period, after implementation. PATIENTS AND METHODS: A retrospective clinical process audit was taken from the hospital notes and an analysis of radiological outcome by Bergland score was obtained by two independent assessors. RESULTS: The audit highlighted the difficulties of integrating the increased clinical workload. Other difficulties included poorly standardised pre- and postoperative occlusal radiography, inconsistent orthodontic management and a lack of prospective data collection. An 81% success rate for alveolar bone grafting compares favourably to the CSAG study. Of 82 patients, 68 had sufficient data for a retrospective review; 21 were our own patients and 47 were referred into the centralised service. The success of bone grafting as defined by CSAG (including Bergland scores) is based on only two-thirds of the patients as many have their orthodontic treatment managed in more distant units and radiographs are much harder to obtain. Bone grafting later than age 11 years, was true for 28% (6/21) of our BCH patients and 46% (22/47) for those referred to our service. CONCLUSIONS: This audit demonstrates what has been achieved in a re-organised service in the context of Real Politik in the NHS and suggests the areas that require improvement.
PMCID: PMC1964120  PMID: 16263019
9.  Six month impact of false positives in an Australian infant hearing screening programme 
Aims: To assess short and longer term parent reported impacts of false positive referrals in the Victorian Infant Hearing Screening Program (VIHSP).
Methods: Mailed retrospective case-control survey of infants consecutively referred to VIHSP between December 1998 and April 1999 for whom audiology did not confirm permanent hearing loss, comprising 137 infants screened with a neonatal risk factor questionnaire and 148 older infants screened with two consecutive behavioural (distraction) tests. The two control groups comprised non-referred screened infants matched by domicile, age, and gender. Main outcome measures were parent reported emotions experienced before and after child's audiology test, parent estimated impact of hearing loss, the Child Vulnerability Scale, audiology assessment satisfaction questionnaire, and questions relating to their child's hearing and language development.
Results: Final sample: at risk cases (AR) 108 (79% response), at risk controls 64 (51%); distraction test cases (DT) 103 (70%), distraction test controls 53 (41%). Parents across all groups believed that hearing loss would have major effects on a child's language (91–96%), schooling (81–91%), and employment opportunities (67–75%). Before audiology, 71% (AR) and 72% (DT) of case parents were anxious/worried, falling to 4% and 15% afterwards. After the test 82% (AR) and 79% (DT) reported relief, but 19% and 18% continued to feel worried. Ongoing concerns about hearing, language, development, and general health were comparable for AR cases compared to controls, and for DT cases compared to controls.
Conclusions: Hearing screening tests are generally well received. Parents are realistic about the impact of childhood hearing loss and report a range of negative emotions when a false positive hearing screen requires referral. Although most are reassured by a normal test, a substantial number report continuing concern.
PMCID: PMC1719264  PMID: 12495952
10.  Six year effectiveness of a population based two tier infant hearing screening programme 
Archives of Disease in Childhood  2002;86(4):245-250.
Aims: To determine whether a two tier universal infant hearing screening programme (population based risk factor ascertainment and universal distraction testing) lowered median age of diagnosis of bilateral congenital hearing impairment (CHI) >40 dB HL in Victoria, Australia.
Methods: Comparison of whole population birth cohorts pre and post introduction of the Victorian Infant Hearing Screening Program (VIHSP). All babies surviving the neonatal period born in Victoria in 1989 (pre-VIHSP) and 1993 (post-VIHSP) were studied. (1) Pre-1992: distraction test at 7–9 months. (2) Post-1992: infants with risk factors for CHI referred for auditory brain stem evoked response (ABR) assessment; all others screened by modified distraction test at 7–9 months.
Results: Of the 1989 cohort (n = 63 454), 1.65/1000 were fitted with hearing aids for CHI by end 1995, compared with 2.09/1000 of the 1993 cohort (n = 64 116) by end 1999. Of these, 79 cases from the 1989 cohort (1.24/1000) and 72 cases from the 1993 cohort (1.12/1000) had CHI >40 dB HL. Median age at diagnosis of CHI >40 dB HL for the 1989 birth cohort was 20.3 months, and for the 1993 cohort was 14.2 months. Median age at diagnosis fell significantly for severe CHI but not for moderate or profound CHI. Significantly more babies with CHI >40 dB HL were diagnosed by 6 months of age in 1993 than in 1989 (21.7% v 6.3%). Compared to the six years pre-VIHSP, numbers aided by six months were consistently higher in the six years post-VIHSP (1.05 per 100 000 births versus 13.4 per 100 000 births per year).
Conclusions: VIHSP resulted in very early diagnosis for more infants and lowered median age of diagnosis of severe CHI. However, overall results were disappointing.
PMCID: PMC1719155  PMID: 11919095
11.  Does height influence progression through primary school grades? 
Archives of Disease in Childhood  2000;82(4):297-301.
AIM—To examine the relation between a child's height and grade progression in primary school.
METHODS—Height was measured in a representative cross sectional sample of children from 24 primary schools in Victoria in late 1997.Height measurements were transformed to standardised scores using Cole's "LMS" method to allow for comparison across ages and genders. Children within each grade were divided into three equal groups based on age (youngest third, middle third, oldest third), again to allow for cross age comparison.
RESULTS—A total of 2848 children aged 5-12 years (51% male) were included, with approximately 400 children in each of the seven grades from preparatory to grade 6. Analysis of variance showed a significant relation overall between age and height, with a sequential decrease in height from the youngest to the oldest third. When genders were considered separately, the relation remained significant for boys but not for girls. A total of 133 children (66% male) repeated a grade in primary school. When this group of grade repeaters was removed from the sample, analysis of variance showed no significant relation between standardised height score and age tertile for boys. Although birth weight category and maternal education were independent predictors of height scores overall, they did not appear to influence decisions to retain pupils in grades.
CONCLUSIONS—Older boys within grades, notably those who have repeated a grade, are shorter than their peers. Decisions to retain pupils, particularly boys who are experiencing school difficulties, may be influenced by their height.

PMCID: PMC1718276  PMID: 10735835
12.  Randomised controlled trial of behavioural infant sleep intervention to improve infant sleep and maternal mood 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  2002;324(7345):1062.
To compare the effect of a behavioural sleep intervention with written information about normal sleep on infant sleep problems and maternal depression.
Randomised controlled trial.
Well child clinics, Melbourne, Australia
156 mothers of infants aged 6-12 months with severe sleep problems according to the parents.
Main outcome measures
Maternal report of infant sleep problem; scores on Edinburgh postnatal depression scale at two and four months.
Discussion on behavioural infant sleep intervention (controlled crying) delivered over three consultations.
At two months more sleep problems had resolved in the intervention group than in the control group (53/76 v 36/76, P=0.005). Overall depression scores fell further in the intervention group than in the control group (mean change −3.7, 95% confidence interval −4.7 to −2.7, v −2.5, −1.7 to −3.4, P=0.06). For the subgroup of mothers with depression scores of 10 and over more sleep problems had resolved in the intervention group than in the control group (26/33 v 13/33, P=0.001). In this subgroup depression scores also fell further for intervention mothers than control mothers at two months (−6.0, −7.5 to −4.0, v −3.7, −4.9 to −2.6, P=0.01) and at four months (−6.5, −7.9 to 5.1 v –4.2, –5.9 to −2.5, P=0.04). By four months, changes in sleep problems and depression scores were similar.
Behavioural intervention significantly reduces infant sleep problems at two but not four months. Maternal report of symptoms of depression decreased significantly at two months, and this was sustained at four months for mothers with high depression scores.
What is already known on this topicInfant sleep problems and postnatal depression are both common potentially serious problemsWomen whose infants have sleep problems are more likely to report symptoms of depressionUncontrolled studies in clinical populations suggest that reducing infant sleep problems improves postnatal depression, but there is no good quality evidence in the community for such effectivenessWhat this study addsA brief community based sleep intervention based on teaching the controlled crying method effectively decreased infant sleep problems and symptoms of maternal depression, particularly for “depressed” mothersThe intervention was acceptable to mothers and reduced the need for other sources of help
PMCID: PMC104332  PMID: 11991909

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