The years from birth to young adulthood (ages 0-24) encompass a breadth of life stages in which males undergo major developmental changes and acquire important social and health behaviours. In 2011, 3.7 million males (more than one-third of the Australian male population) were aged 0-24. Consequently, the health status of this population group is important both for the individuals concerned, and for the health and productivity of the future adult population.

This report is the third in a series funded under the National Male Health Policy (DoHA 2010). It builds the evidence base for the health of young males in Australia, focusing on those health conditions and risk factors that are age-specific (such as congenital anomalies) and those where large sex differences are observed (such as injury).

Life, birth and death

  • Male babies born in 2009-2011 can expect to live to the age of 79.7, nearly 5 years less than female babies born the same year (84.2). Male babies are also more likely than female babies to be born before 37 weeks gestation, have a high birthweight, or have a congenital anomaly.
  • There were 52 deaths per 100,000 males aged 0-24, nearly twice that among females of the same age (30 per 100,000). Males were nearly 3 times as likely to die from land transport accidents, the major cause of death for males aged 1-24.

Healthy living

  • The proportion of males aged 2-24 in a healthy weight range decreases with increasing age.
  • As a general trend, younger males (5-16) are more active and more likely to meet physical activity guidelines than older males (17-24).
  • More than half of males aged 5-15 brush their teeth at least twice a day. By age 14, more than half of males have at least one permanent tooth affected by decay.

Risky living

  • About 6% of males aged 14-19 smoke tobacco daily and are less likely than females of the same age to do so. More than 2 in 5 (43%) males aged 14-19 were at risk of injury resulting from a single occasion of drinking alcohol.
  • Males aged 0-24 were more likely to be hospitalised for injury, and more likely to die from injury, than females of the same age.
  • Chlamydia is the most commonly notified infectious disease among young males. More than half (53%) of chlamydia notifications among males were for those aged 15-24.

Health status and health service use

  • Almost 1 in 4 (23%) males aged 16-24 had experienced symptoms of a mental disorder, and 4 in every 1,000 males aged 18-24 had been diagnosed with a psychotic disorder. In spite of this, rates of help seeking among young males are low (13%).
  • About 193,400 males aged 0-24 (8%) have a disability, and about 78,000 accessed selected disability services.