2005 - 2008 Adolescence

Adolescence is an age where concerns about health, particularly mental health are high but people do not engage with health services and health information remains sparse. This follow-up, led by Dr Gurmeet Singh, saw the extension of data collected to include oral examination by the research team dentist, cognition: memory and reflex testing and emotional wellbeing questionnaires.

Through external collaborations, it also saw the addition of two sub-studies examining iodine and hepatitis B. 

  • Due to financial and logistic constraints, the National Iodine Nutritional Survey did not include the NT, however the Wave-3 follow up demonstrated iodine deficiency in the participants. These results supported the decision for a national approach of mandatory fortification of iodized salt in bread.
  • ABC participants were among the first in Australia to routinely receive Hepatitis B vaccinations at birth.  Currently the longevity of the vaccine is being monitored to inform the need and timing of a booster dose.  

Follow-up occurred when participants were a mean age of 18 years. 


Dr Gurmeet Singh, Joseph Fitz, Megan Lawrence and Kobi Schutz made up the core research team. Additional support was obtained from dentist Lisa Jamieson and psychologist Wendy Gunthorpe.

Data collected

In addition to the previously collected detailed data on personal demographic characteristics, body size and composition, ultrasounds of kidney, and blood pressure were collected. Various blood and urine biomarkers were used to assess cardiac health, renal function and for diabetes.


469 participants were seen aged 16-20 (mean18 yrs).

Using International Centers of Disease Control growth curves 2000, the mean weight-for-age z-scores (WAZ) at18 years of age were all below the average. 

Those who were born small for gestational age were smaller, lighter, and had smaller head circumferences compared to those born normal.

Significant differences continued in the health of children living in remote communities compared to urban areas. 

The low prevalence of chronic disease markers in adolescence suggests that there is still a window of opportunity beyond childhood to target interventions aimed at reducing the high burden of chronic disease in this high risk population. 


People involved in this study

Professor Gurmeet Singh
Senior Research Fellow and Director of Life Course Program
Dr Wendy Gunthorpe
Joseph Fitz
Project Officer

Related publications

Year Study Citation View
Aboriginal Birth Cohort

Sayers S Singh G, Mackerras D, Gunthorpe W, Jamieson L, Davison B, Schutz K, Fitz J. Australian Aboriginal Birth Cohort Study: follow-up processes at 20 years. BiomedCentral International Health and Human Rights 2009; 9:23

PDF icon PDF (313.98 KB)
Aboriginal Birth Cohort

Mackerras DE, Singh GR, Eastman CJ. Iodine status of Aboriginal teenagers in the Darwin region before mandatory iodine fortification of bread. Med J Aust. 2011 Feb 7;194(3):126-30.

PDF icon PDF (268.99 KB)
Aboriginal Birth Cohort

Davison, B. , Goodall, J. , Whalan, S. , Montgomery‐Quin, K. , Howarth, T. and Singh, G. (2019), Nutritional dual burden in Indigenous young adults: The geographical differential. Aust. J. Rural Health. doi:10.1111/ajr.12439

PDF icon PDF (370.09 KB)

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