Our achievements

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Our researchers are responsible for discovering or contributing to real game-changers that are making a difference to children's health and wellbeing.

Since 1990, Telethon Kids Institute researchers have authored or co-authored more than 3,500 books, articles and monographs that are contributing to breakthroughs in children's health and wellbeing.
Twenty-five years is a brief period in terms of medical research - the complex problems worthy of inquiry at a top-class research institute cannot be solved overnight.  

It is important to collaborate with, corroborate and augment research from other institutions, as this is what drives progress.
Here is a fraction of their contributions.

1   

Helped discover that folic acid in the mother's diet around the time of conception has an important role in preventing spina bifida and other neural tube defects; established the first campaign to promote folic acid supplements and successfully advocated  for fortification of flour with folic acid. folate

2

Discovered and characterised the immune mechanism (known as "mucosal tolerance") that normally protects against allergic sensitisation to airborne agents such as pollen grain proteins and dust mite causing hay fever or asthma. dust mite

3

Discovered the network of dendritic cells in the lung that are responsible for trapping incoming "foreign" proteins as we breathe, including allergens, viruses and bacteria; discovered immune responses to rhinovirus C, a virus that is responsible for severe lower respiratory tract disease in children and hospitalisation for asthma.

4

First to introduce insulin pump therapy to children with diabetes in Australia and now at the forefront of trials of an artificial pancreas; discovered how sleep affects low glucose levels, resulting in changes to therapy that have made life safer for children with diabetes; and identified the growing problem of Type 2 Diabetes in Aboriginal children. diabetes

5

Co-discovered the homeobox gene HOX11/TLX1 that drives T-cell leukaemia in children and identified prognostic markers for patients. cancer

6

Contributed towards the licensing of more than 10 childhood vaccines and produced evidence that led to earlier immunisation for Haemophilus influenzae type B (Hib), dramatically reducing the impact of the disease.

7

Identified a high prevalence of bronchiectasis in children diagnosed with cystic fibrosis (CF), resulting in a paradigm shift from amelioration to prevention of CF lung disease. cf

8

Discovered that in allergic children viruses and inhaled allergens interact synergistically to trigger the severe asthma attacks that are responsible for the bulk of emergency paediatric asthma hospitalisations. asthma

9

Identified novel drugs effective for children and adults with NUT midline carcinoma and for babies with leukaemia and provided new insights into the drivers of these particularly aggressive diseases using genome technology.

10

Demonstrated the improvement in survival associated with changes in surgical management of cardiac defects in babies with Down syndrome. down syndrome

11

Developed the first method for quantitation of antibody-producing cells in the immune system (the ELISPOT test), now acknowledged as the International Standard method for this purpose.

12

First in the world to demonstrate in pre-clinical trials that sun exposure can reduce the development of asthma. Demonstrated the important role of sun exposure and vitamin D during pregnancy for development of the lungs, brain and bones of the child. sun

13

Discovered that overcrowding is the strongest predictor of carriage of bacteria that cause otitis media (ear infections), emphasising the need to improve housing conditions, specifically for Aboriginal people. ears

14

Helped to discover that the atypical brain development of children with autism starts before birth and to re-define autism as a cluster of syndromes rather than just one 'disorder'. autism

15

Undertook the largest investigation into the health, wellbeing and development of Western Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children through the Western Australian Aboriginal Child Health Survey, publishing four volumes of findings that have driven changes in policy. waachs

16

Developed and currently implementing a diagnostic instrument for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) in Australia. fasd

17

Measured and reported the mental health status of Australian children and adolescents for over 20 years and increased and widened the range of the mental health services that are available.

18

Elucidated the structures of the house dust mite allergens and identified the most suitable formulations for diagnosis and new types of asthma therapy. asthma2

19

Produced new knowledge about student attendance and its relationship to academic achievement - to include finding that every day in school does count! education

20

Through the use of record linkage identified child and parental factors associated with increased risk of child maltreatment.

21

Developed the first Cerebral Palsy Register in Australia. Analysis of this information has changed the thinking on what causes CP - revealing that only a small number of cases are caused by trauma at birth with the majority linked to problems much earlier in the pregnancy. cp

22

Developed a measure to identify two year olds with late language development, helping position services where they are best needed and at the ages where they matter the most. reading

23

Reinforced the value of breastfeeding by demonstrating that the earlier introduction of milk other than breast milk (formula milk) was associated with greater asthma onset and severity in children at 5 years of age and that longer duration of breastfeeding was associated with better child development, mental health problems, educational outcomes and less obesity all the way through childhood into adulthood. breastfeeding

24

Undertook the adaptation, and the reliability and validity testing of an early development instrument (EDI) for Australia that has led to the development of a sustainable national program supporting early childhood across Australia. The Australian Early Development Census is now a triennial national survey embedded in state and federal government, non-government and local government policy and practice.

25

Demonstrated that swimming pools in Aboriginal communities are effective in reducing skin infections and the risk of rheumatic heart and kidney disease, leading to an increase in the provision of these facilities in remote areas. pools

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