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Life expectancy gap still wide in NSW: report

NEW SOUTH WALES: Aboriginal people in NSW are more likely to be hospitalised for alcohol and more likely to smoke during pregnancy than non-Indigenous people, a new report shows.

The Report by the Chief Health Officer, released on Friday, also found life expectancy at birth for Aboriginal males in the state from 2005 to 2007 was 69.9 years – almost nine years shorter than for all NSW men.

Meanwhile, life expectancy for Aboriginal females for the same period was around 75 years – more than seven years less than the rest of the women in the state.

Aboriginal mortality for children aged less than 5 years is 2.5 times the rate of non-Aboriginal children, while infant mortality was 1.3 times higher.

“There is a large disparity in life expectancy, and the burden of disease is higher in Aboriginal people particularly in preventable diseases such as cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, mental health conditions, chronic respiratory disease and cancer,” NSW Chief Health Officer, Dr Kerry Chant said in a statement.

According to the report, some Aboriginal people continue to live in overcrowded and poor quality housing, leading to the spread of infectious disease.

It also found Aboriginal women were 4.8 times more likely to smoke during pregnancy.

When it came to alcohol use, the report found Aboriginal people were almost twice as likely to report drinking above the recommended guidelines, with Aboriginal males more than three times as likely to be hospitalised for alcohol-related causes.

But Dr Chant said the report showed some inroads had been made.

The report found a significant increase in the proportion of Aboriginal mothers attending antenatal care before 14 weeks gestation over the past 10 years, from 64 per cent to 80 per cent.

There has also been a decrease in the proportion of babies born to Aboriginal mothers who are of low birth weight.

AAP

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