Health centre/hospital visits in the last 12 months for respiratory illness among Inuit children aged 3 to 5 years, Nunavut, Canada, 2007/2008

Source: CICH graphic created using data adapted from The International Polar Year Nunavut Inuit Child Health Survey, 2007/2008. -accessed August 31, 2017.

Coughing, asthma, bronchiolitis, bronchitis and pneumonia are common respiratory illnesses among Inuit children.1

The 2007/2008 International Polar Year Nunavut Inuit Child Health Survey reported that 42% of children aged 3 to 5 went to a health centre or hospital over the last 12 months for a respiratory illness.

Before the age of 2 years, 32% of Inuit children had a serious lung infection with 54% needing to be hospitalized outside of Nunavut.1

For Inuit children age 3 to 5, respiratory infections were the most common reason for being hospitalized.1

1The International Polar Year Nunavut Inuit Child Health Survey, 2007/2008.


Respiratory infections are a leading cause of hospitalization among Indigenous children. First Nations and Inuit children in particular suffer disproportionately higher rates of respiratory infections due to poverty, overcrowding, inadequate housing, poor ventilation, and increased exposure to tobacco smoke and other indoor air contaminants.1 Inuit children have high rates of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) bronchiolitis requiring hospitalization, and they often experience repeated infections in the same season, which is considered to be unusual.1 Additionally, Inuit have high rates of Tuberculosis (TB)2 and young Inuit children have a higher risk of developing TB. The increased rates of respiratory infections early in life place Inuit children at greater risk of long-term lung diseases, suggesting the need to address respiratory infections among Indigenous children early in life.

1Kovesi, T. (2012). Respiratory disease in Canadian First Nations and Inuit children. Paediatrics Child Health, 17(7), 376-380.
2Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami. (2013). Inuit-specific tuberculosis (TB) strategy. Ottawa, ON: Author, p. 2. Retrieved October 11, 2017 from