F1000 Days Australia

Engaging Australia’s First Peoples in the development of ethics and protocols for a family-based microbiome study and social health history project

The Indigenous Health Equity Unit has been funded by the Lowitja Institute to work with 12 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families  to build engagement strategies, communication tools and ethics to help families understand more about the microorganisms in and on their bodies – skin, gums, teeth and especially the gut. Increasing evidence suggests that microbiome, particularly those of the mother, is seeded before birth and that a child’s microbial diversity is unstable for the first 3-5 years of life.  Understanding the impact of birthing, nutrition and other environmental factors all plays a part in developing cultural strategies to strengthen a child’s early years.  Dr. Sharon Huebner and Professor Kerry Arabena are interviewing families in Queensland and Victoria.  The interviews are designed as a starting point for conversations about the role that a microbiome study might play in the health and wellbeing for present and future generations.  Seven interviews have so far been conducted, demonstrating how F1000 Days Australia project can mobilise First Peoples leadership in describing, and responding to, questions about why and how a microbiome study might take place in the future.  Find out more here and here.

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Ruth Hentschel