Aboriginal Australians are ten times more likely to develop chronic kidney disease requiring dialysis compared to other Australians and develop the disease on average 12 years earlier. ARDAC (the Antecedents of Renal Disease in Aboriginal Children Study) is a community-based research project that hopes to find some answers about why the risk of chronic kidney disease and heart disease is so much greater for Aboriginal Australians.
The ARDAC study monitors the kidney and heart health of approximately 3500 Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal children and young people from schools and communities across NSW. Beginning in 2001, ARDAC is a longitudinal cohort study, which means that the same participants remain involved for a long period of time. The study participants are visited every two years by the ARDAC team for a kidney and heart health screening. This involves measuring their height, weight, waist circumference, blood pressure and testing urine samples. The results are analysed to see if there are any differences between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal participants in the presence of risk factors for kidney and heart disease. Any participants with abnormal results are referred to their local health centre and region-specific data is fed back to the communities.
ARDAC chief investigator Professor Jonathan Craig said the study will help develop programs to lower the likelihood of Aboriginal adolescents developing chronic kidney disease.
“ARDAC has shown us that chronic kidney disease is preventable in Aboriginal people,” said Professor Craig. “Early markers of kidney disease become more common in Aboriginal compared with non-Aboriginal young people as they approach early adult life. Programs targeting Aboriginal young people could lower the likelihood of them developing kidney disease and prevent kidney failure requiring dialysis and transplants.”
Based at the Centre for Kidney Research at the Children’s Hospital at Westmead in western Sydney, project co-ordinators are currently recruiting 16 to 20-year-old Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal young people across NSW to participate in the study. If you or your community would like to take part please contact ARDAC on 1800 005 846 or visit the website www.ardac.org.au.