8 Dec 2008

Pacific Children in New Zealand suffer more health problems

11:29 am on 8 December 2008

A new report says children of Pacific descent are more likely to suffer from poor health and generally live in economically deprived areas.

The paper, Health of Pacific Children and Young People in New Zealand, found between 2002 and 2006, around 13,000 Pacific babies were born into poor communities such as South Auckland and Porirua.

That's 60 percent of all Pacific births and the highest rate of any other ethnicity.

Samoan Pediatrician, Teuila Percival, says Pacific children are in hospital more often for serious skin infections, pneumonia and asthma.

Dr Percival also says the report shows the asthma rate for Pacific children is nearly ten per thousand, compared to half that rate for Europeans while Pneumonia rates are three times as high.

"We see very high rates of rheumatic fever in Pacific children compared with some European children, and you don't see rheumatic fever in countries like England, it's sort of unheard of, so we are seeing third world diseases as well now in our kids."

Dr Percival says hospital admissions have remained high after a rapid rise in the 90s.

However, she says smoking is decreasing among young Pacific people and education is slowly improving.