Children and young people deaths reduced by half since 1980

18 Feb 2015 | Child & Youth Mortality Review Committee

The number of children and young people who die in New Zealand each year has more than halved since 1980, a new report shows.

In 2013, 515 New Zealanders aged 28 days to 24 years died, according to the 10th Data Report of the Child and Youth Mortality Review Committee, covering 2009–2013. This compares with 1334 deaths in 1980.

The trend continued during the years focused on in the report, released under the umbrella of the Health Quality & Safety Commission, with 674 deaths in 2009, 620 in 2010, 632 in 2011 and 601 in 2012.

In total, 3042 children and young adults died during 2009–2013.

The largest single cause of death was suicide. There were 645 suicides in total, including 316 aged 20–24, 293 aged 15–19 and 35 aged 10–14. More than twice as many males than females committed suicide – 464 compared with 181.

Transport-related incidents accounted for 572 deaths (460 of them involving those aged 15–24), sudden unexpected death in infancy (SUDI) for 228, drowning for 92, assault for 77 and unintentional poisoning for 53. There were 1183 medical-related deaths.

The report shows Maori have the highest mortality rates, followed by Pacific people, and that mortality rates increase significantly with deprivation.

Dr Felicity Dumble, chair of the Child and Youth Mortality Review Committee, says: ‘The reduction in deaths is great news reflecting the success of a number of initiatives improving the health and safety of our children and young people. However, any avoidable death of a child or youth is premature and a tragedy. We still need to use this information to determine where to focus our future efforts.’

The Commission is currently trialling a Suicide Mortality Review Committee, with Maori youth one of its focuses as it seeks to identify contributing factors and patterns of suicidal behaviour and key intervention points for suicide prevention.

In addition to the 3042 New Zealanders, 67 non-New Zealanders died in the country during 2009–2013, including 17 as a result of the 22 February 2011 Christchurch earthquake.

Click the link below to read the full 10th Data Report.

Last updated 18/02/2015