Sharyn O'Neill

Deaths of indigenous Australians drop as health improves

THE health of indigenous Queenslanders is improving despite a continuing high rate of women smoking while pregnant, a report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare revealed on Tuesday.

In the report on the performance of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health framework, avoidable mortality fell 32% between 2001 and 2010, narrowing the gap between indigenous and non-indigenous Queenslanders.

It also found a 30% fall in deaths due to circulatory disease in the same period - the leading cause of death among indigenous Australians.

A third positive among the report's findings was a 41% fall in infant mortality rates between 2001 and 2010.

But despite the improvements, 52% of indigenous Queensland women were still smoking while pregnant, and mortality rates for chronic diseases such as diabetes remained at eight times the rate for non-indigenous people.

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