5 Jan 2018

NZ Pacific family study reaches turning point

5:49 pm on 5 January 2018

Researchers in New Zealand will reach a turning point this year with a longitudinal study focusing on Pacific babies born in the year 2000.

Dr Dan Tautolo, director of the Pacific Islands Family study in NZ

Dr Dan Tautolo, director of the Pacific Islands Family study in NZ Photo: Supplied / AUT

The Pacific Island family study follows the lives of around 1400 Pacific babies born at south Auckland's Middlemore Hospital.

Auckland University of Technology's Dan Tautolo said the longitudinal study consisted of annual interviews with parents as well as the participants.

Dr Tautolo says 2018 was a big year for the study as it had entered a key phase of the children entering early adulthood and for many leaving high school.

"In the early phases it was more kind of reporting from the parents, but once the kids sort of started school at around the four, five year age, we were able to collect more and more information from them as they got older," he said.

"As the study moves now with the kids being 17 and getting older, we'll probably shift to collecting more information from the kids themselves and maybe less so from the parents."

Dr Tautolo said common issues found in the study during the early phase of development were around breastfeeding, hearing problems and maternal smoking.

He said the influence of cultural identity amoung the participants was interesting to watch during their 17 years of development.

"We've found that those who are more strongly aligned or identify with their traditional Pacific culture, tend to do better in terms of health outcomes, education all kinds of things.

"So it's really been about trying to impact what is it about that cultural identity alignment that's giving that positive effect."