Kids and Families

Listed below are a selection of research projects currently active within ISLHD.

Child & Family

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Gould G, Jobling J, Manton J, Perkes SJ, Smith R, Cadet-James Y, Clarke M, Oldmeadow C, Clough A, Carson K, Reath J, Gruppetta M, Bonevski B, O'Mara P, Zeev YB, Bittoun R, Atkins L, Cowling B, Bovill M, Boydell K, Mattes J, Searles A, Doran C, de Quieroz Andrade E, Oncken C, Stuhl E, iSISTAQUIT (implementation phase of the Supporting Indigenous Smokers To Assist Quitting project): provision of training and materials to aid health professionals/organisations to support smoking cessation for Indigenous women during pregnancy.
Locations: Illawarra Shoalhaven Child & Family Community Health (Binji & Boori).
External Partners: The University of Newcastle, Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services.

The SISTAQUIT training intervention is an evidence-based, culturally appropriate, multi-component intervention to improve health providers’ provision of smoking cessation care to pregnant Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women. The implementation of SISTAQUIT comprises eLearning training and resources for GPs, Aboriginal Health Workers, midwives and nurses.  The National Social Media Campaign will be driven by a Social Media Committee comprising Aboriginal Community members and organisations as well as expertise in the field and provides a unique opportunity for Aboriginal health services to be involved in developing local video content in language


Hewitt L, Okely T, Frohmuller C, Wen L-M, Davis KJ, Eyles M, Fischer O, Effect of a multi-component intervention in post-natal mother's groups on meeting the Physical Activity Guideline for infants. A group randomized controlled trial.
Locations: Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District.
External Partners: University of Wollongong, Sydney Local Health District.

A group randomized controlled trial to determine the efficacy of a multi-component intervention incorporating WhatsApp® and group tummy time classes in post-natal mothers’ groups, on infant physical activity levels (tummy time).  This will be accomplished by training Early Childhood Nurses (ECHN) to deliver an evidence-based intervention to mothers and their infants attending local post-natal mother’s groups. This work aligns with the “The First 2000 days” framework which is one of the priorities for the NSW Health Translational Research Grants Scheme. Mothers in the intervention group will be informally educated about the benefits of tummy time, positions, setting aside time and equipment, and control group will receive usual care. 

Child Protection & Wellbeing

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Spangaro J, Hanley N, Finlay S, Kor K, Payne J, Allan J, Simpson H, Fabrianesi B, Claridge J, Fuller J, Brown M, Bosevski R, Access to and engagement with services for Sexual Safety for children and young people with problematic and harmful sexual behaviour (AccESS).
Locations: Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District.
External Partners: University of Wollongong, Western Sydney Local Health District.

Commissioned by the Ministry of Health (MoH), this research responds to the Royal Commission’s recommendation for improving service accessibility and engagement for children and young people (0 to 17 years) with problematic and harmful sexual behaviour.  The qualitative interviews will develop understandings of enablers and barriers to access and engage with services for problematic and harmful sexual behaviour, and, identify gain and pressure points during service referral and engagement processes. Research findings will contribute to the current program of work undertaken by the MoH to develop an evidence-based framework for improving prevention, early intervention and therapeutic responses to children and young people with problematic and harmful sexual behaviour, and their families. Findings of this study will also be incorporated into education resources that aim to normalise help-seeking, increase understandings of problematic and harmful sexual behaviour, and inform culturally safe practice. 


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Dalby-Payne J, Lau C, Bhurawala H, Teo S, Chay P, Chin R, Dowling T, Piper S, Vuillermin P, Standish J, Newnham T, Thomson-Bowe K, Rosser J, Martin A, Kapoor V, Costa-Pinto J, Sypek S, Mace A, McNab S, Simeonovic M, Thomas C, Camadoo L, Beggs S, Stewart P, Liu A, Kaufman J, Children’s Inpatient Research Collaboration of Australia and New Zealand (CIRCAN) Study of the Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on General Paediatric Admissions in Australia.
Locations: Wollongong Hospital.
External Partners: Multiple hospitals Australia-wide.

The aim of this multi-centre epidemiological observational study is to compare the burden of general paediatric inpatient admissions in tertiary and non-tertiary hospital across Australia pre and post-COVID-19 Pandemic.  Secondary aims will be to examine the change in profile of patients admitted under General Paediatric teams including demographic features, severity of illness and types of diagnoses.


Kunjunju A, Uebel H, Piper S, Where to draw the line? Comparison of two jaundice guidelines and implications on readmission for phototherapy.
Locations: Wollongong Hospital.

Phototherapy is a safe and effective treatment for neonatal unconjugated hyperbilirubinemia, which involves placing the infant under a blue spectrum light, facilitating the conversion of bilirubin to soluble isomers that are then excreted in the urine. This has reduced the need for exchange transfusion, and in many centres, also enabled the treatment of infants in the community. In this study, we are aiming to compare the two jaundice algorithm and the babies will meet the treatment threshold in both chart. If the results are significant, it will help us to revise our clinical practice.


Legge A, Haggie S, Srivastava T, Wells A, Neonatal hypoglycameia: An audit to describe trends in identification, management and outcomes in the Illawarra Shoalhaven Region.
Locations: Wollongong Hospital, Shoalhaven District Memorial Hospital.

Data analysed in this study will provide information on screening, identification and management trends over the study period and outcomes of infants with hypoglycaemia. It will also assess the utility of the current guideline, as well as aim to compare WHO growth charts to customised growth charts in identifying the at risk neonate. Information gained from this audit will guide future policy development, to ensure neonates at risk of hypoglycaemia are appropriately identified and managed.


Melwani P, Haggie S, Davis KJ, Evaluating APGAR Scoring and Outcomes of Neonates with APGARs less than 7 at 5 minutes.
Locations: Shoalhaven District Memorial Hospital.

This project aims to identify whether there is a significant association between the APGAR score calculated and the arterial cord gas collected at time of birth, which is an objective measure which can be used to reflect acute stress on the newborn prior to delivery


Oei JL, Travadi J, Tracy M, Allgood C, Sotiropoulos J, Smyth J, Kunjunju A, Marjoribanks C, AIR Study: Air for Infant Resuscitation.
Locations: Wollongong Hospital.
External Partners: University of New South Wales, Royal Hospital for Women, John Hunter Children's Hospital, Westmead Hospital, Campbelltown Hospital.

For more than 15 years, international resuscitation guidelines have recommended the use of air (21% oxygen) to initiate respiratory support of full-term infants at birth. This is to prevent oxidative stress. However, the impact of using air instead of oxygen (which had been used for >200 years) is unknown and concerning if the infant has lung problems, necessitating extra oxygen. This project will aim to recruit 5,000 infants from >40 hospitals around the world to measure oxygen saturations (SpO2) for the first 10 minutes after birth. The primary aim of the study is to see if air allows sick babies to reach recommended oxygen saturations by 5 minutes and if this impacts on death at 24 hours.


Oei JL, Themakis T, Kunjunju A, Seddon S, Marjoribanks C, Stephens S, Qian S, The Neurology of NAS Early detection of neurocognitive problems in children exposed to intra-uterine Drugs of addiction.
Locations: Wollongong Hospital.
External Partners: The Royal Hospital for Women, The University of New South Wales.

Maternal drugs have the potential to impair infant brain development and function. Many of these babies look "normal" at birth but may develop serious problems, including cerebral palsy, low IQ and attention and behavioural issues. In this project, we aim to conduct an observation called "general movements" (GM) which is an effective screening tool for cerebral palsy in high risk (e.g. preterm) babies. The parent/guardian will make a 20 min video and send this to a  qualified GM assessor that is unaware of the infant's drug exposure history.  The infant will be followed to 2 years of age to see if any neurological problems develop. Intervention and treatment will be offered if they do.


Reid S, Kunjunju A, Crossing the threshold: Comparing guidelines for neonatal inpatient management of jaundice.
Locations: Wollongong Hospital.

There is significant variation in clinical practice between Australian Neonatal Units in regards to the minimum serum bilirubin level requiring phototherapy. Current guidelines used in NSW are based on the more conservative NICE guidelines, whilst Queensland utilise AAP guidelines, which advocate higher treatment thresholds. This study is significant as it may provide evidence for an alteration in clinical practice, with the potential for decreasing unnecessary medical interventions, and subsequently reducing hospital stays for neonates and their mothers.

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