Poor nutrition and infections common in refugee children

Researchers compiled data for around 1000 children – from more than 30 different ethnicities – who were seen at a Perth-based refugee health clinic from 2006 to 2008.

Common reasons for referral were vitamin D or iron deficiency (39% and 22% respectively), positive Helicobacter pylori serology (21%), poor appetite (17.1%) and parasitic worm infection (16.6%).

Almost a quarter (22.2%) had dental disease while fungal skin infections (30.3%), cardiac murmurs (8.6%), failure to thrive (8.3%), and enuresis (4.3%) were also commonly diagnosed.

“Dental caries were common and often severe; however, symptoms were rarely reported,” the authors said. “Failure to report pain highlights the need for thorough clinical examination in refugee children, as their symptom history did not reliably indicate pathology.”

Many children were from Sudanese or Burmese backgrounds. The median age was eight years.