Design, setting and participants: Historical, observational study of all hospital admissions for any diagnosis of NT resident Indigenous children, aged between ≥ 29 days and < 5 years, 1 April 1997 to 31 March 2005.
Main outcome measure: The primary outcome was endpoint consolidation (dense fluffy consolidation [alveolar infiltrate] of a portion of a lobe or the entire lung) present on a chest radiograph within 3 days of hospitalisation.
Results: We analysed data on 24 115 hospitalised episodes of care for 9492 children and 13 683 chest radiographs. The average annual cumulative incidence of endpoint consolidation was 26.6 per 1000 population per year (95% CI, 25.3–27.9); 57.5 per 1000 per year in infants aged 1–11 months, 38.3 per 1000 per year in those aged 12–23 months, and 13.3 per 1000 per year in those aged 24–59 months. In all age groups, rates of endpoint consolidation in children in the arid southern region of NT were about twice that of children in the tropical northern region.
Conclusion: The rates of severe pneumonia in hospitalised NT Indigenous children are among the highest reported in the world. Reducing this unacceptable burden of disease should be a national health priority.
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