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, Mott S, Singh G. Fetal growth restriction and 18-year growth and nutritional status: Aboriginal birth cohort 1987-2007. Am J Hum Biol. 2010 Dec 22.

PDF icon PDF (65.6 KB)
Aboriginal Birth Cohort, Top End Cohort

Howarth T, Davison B, Singh G. Grip strength among Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australian adults: a longitudinal study of the effects of birth size and current size. BMJ open. 2019;9(4):e024749.

PDF icon PDF (619.17 KB)
Aboriginal Birth Cohort

Sayers S, Singh G, Mott S, McDonnell J, Hoy W. Relationships between birthweight and biomarkers of chronic disease in childhood: Aboriginal Birth Cohort Study 1987-2001. Paediatr Perinat Epidemiol. 2009 Nov;23(6):548-56.


PDF icon PDF (226.48 KB)

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