More and more young children in Australian are succumbing to infections. And that in turn could be linked to the fact more and more parents fall back on the day care centres.
The survey of the medical records of 270,000 West Australian children found infectious diseases were the most common cause for hospitalization of children under two.
Researchers at the Telethon Institute for Child Health Research found that half of all Aboriginal and one in five non-Aboriginal babies and toddlers had been admitted at least once because of infection.
The most common were respiratory infections, bronchiolitis, pneumonia, ear infection and gastroenteritis, according to the study published in the Paediatric Infectious Disease Journal
Dr Deborah Lehmann, who heads the institute's infectious diseases unit, said the results supported US studies showing infection rates were increasing significantly among non-indigenous children.
Aboriginal children were three times more likely to be admitted to hospital but these rates were declining, Dr Lehmann said.
Researchers believed the increased use of early childhood facilities could be behind the rise.
"These days young children generally mix with many children at a young age due to an increase in day care and other organised activities for children," co-author Dr David Burgner, a child health specialist at the University of Western Australia, said.
"Therefore they are also potentially exposed to more infectious diseases earlier."
Researchers said the results proved infections should be a bigger funding priority for government and reinforced the importance of vaccine development to fight viruses.