Study on skin infection in children gets funding boost

Medical research from the Centre for Longitudinal Research into the factors contributing to serious skin infections in children has benefited from a funding boost by the Auckland Medical Research Foundation.

Dr Mark Hobbs who will be starting with the centre in January was awarded the Douglas Goodfellow Medical Research Fellowship to determine the relative contribution of social, economic, ethnic, environmental, genetic and microbiological factors to the incidence of serious skin and soft tissue infections (SSSTI) in children under five. The fellowship is worth $282,500 over three years.

New Zealand children experience a high rate of hospitalisation for SSSTI, with Māori and Pacific children disproportionately affected.

Mark will use information collected from the ethnically and socio-economically diverse Growing Up in New Zealand cohort of almost 7,000 children for his research.

He plans to identify all cohort children who were admitted to hospital with an SSSTI, and compare their characteristics to those of other children in the study to determine the relative contribution of host (Demographics, health status, variations in the genes that determine immune responses to infection), organism (Variations in the bacteria resident in the nose, throat and skin of cohort children at age 4 years) and environmental (household environment, socio-economic deprivation, access to healthcare) factors to SSSTI.

The results will help guide future efforts to reduce the incidence of serious skin and soft tissue infections in New Zealand children.

Auckland Medical Research Foundation media release (PDF)