Experts to discuss childhood chronic disease links

Friday, 27 April 2012

Links between influences in the early years of life and chronic conditions will be explored by experts at a conference in Darwin in September.

"While it may be years or even decades before a chronic condition becomes apparent, we know that influences on babies and young children can contribute to diseases such as diabetes, heart, kidney and lung diseases," Professor Victor Nossar, Leader of the Child and Youth Health Strategy Unit, said.

Thesixteenth annual Chronic Diseases Network Conference, themed Promoting Healthy Childhood - Preventing Chronic Conditions, will bring experts from around Australia to Darwin Convention Centre on September 20 and 21.

Prof Nossar, one of the keynote speakers, said the conference would have a strong focus on chronic conditions prevention in the first years of life, as well as Northern Territory-based initiatives. Many papers would be presented by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander delegates from the Territory and interstate.

"Influences on chronic conditions include whether a mother smokes in pregnancy, a child's diet, their level of physical activity, domestic violence, parenting, their level of schooling and the socio-economic status of the family," Prof Nossar said.

"For example, we know that if a child has a stressful environment early in life, such as physical, emotional or sexual abuse, violence in the home or parental separation, the risk for severe health problems increases greatly.

"We know that reducing stress in the child's environment can reduce the subsequent risks of many of these diseases." 

Other keynote speakers include:

·        Dr Fiona Arney, Head of the Child Protection Research Program, Menzies School of Health Research

·        Donna Ah Chee, CEO of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation

·        Dr Howard Bath, NT Children's Commissioner

The conference is open to anyone working in areas of chronic conditions, early childhood development, child health and wellbeing, education, and health promotion.

The conference also features the Chronic Diseases Network Recognition Awards which will be presented at a welcome function hosted by Health Minister Kon Vatskalis at Parliament House. These awards celebrate innovation, leadership and achievements made by those working in the field of chronic disease across the Territory. 

More information is at:

Media inquiries:Bridget Wild899 92818 or 0401 116 203