Published online by Cambridge University Press: 05 June 2012
This volume is about a special research project in Central Australia, the scientists from The University of Adelaide who were involved for many years and the Aboriginal children and adults who participated in the study. The project is unique for several reasons. Primarily, it concerned the dentitions and general growth of children from Yuendumu in the Northern Territory who researchers observed annually between 1951 and 1971. In contrast to a cross-sectional design, the value of longitudinal studies lies in a clearer insight into the range of variation in growth patterns between individuals and the extent of variations within the same individual over time. Although many longitudinal studies of modern European populations have been undertaken, there have been few opportunities for recording craniofacial and dental development in other groups. Moreover, such studies are extremely rare when the subjects are indigenous children growing up in an isolated community with limited but increasing contact with European society and customs. Although the field trips ceased in 1971, when Yuendumu was a vastly different community than it is today, ongoing data analysis continues to provide information of relevance, as it will in the future.
Records collected over the 20 years included measurements of the growing children, casts of their dentitions, radiographs and family data, all of which have provided an invaluable source of information about the Yuendumu population, their dental conditions and the growth patterns of the children.