Report shows fewer child and youth deaths

3 Jun 2016 | Child & Youth Mortality Review Committee

New figures from the Child and Youth Mortality Review Committee (CYMRC) show deaths of children and young people continue to decline. In 2014, 488 children and young people aged 28 days to 24 years died, compared with 620 deaths in 2010.

The CYMRC operates under the umbrella of the Health Quality & Safety Commission. It reviews the deaths of children and young people so these types of deaths can be prevented in the future.

'Every death of a child or young person is a terrible tragedy,' says CYMRC chair Dr Felicity Dumble. 'So it is very encouraging to see the trend of fewer deaths continue.'

She says the fall has in part been driven by a reduction in the number of deaths due to motor vehicle crashes in young people aged between 15 and 24 years.

'However, there were fewer deaths from nearly all causes in 2014.'

The report found that for children and young people overall, the leading causes of death were medical conditions including cancers and congenital abnormalities (39 percent). Unintentional injury accounted for 29 percent of deaths, with transport crashes being the leading cause of these types of deaths.

Māori had the highest mortality rate in children and young people, followed by Pacific peoples. Asian populations had the lowest overall mortality rate.

Males continue to be over-represented in mortality data, accounting for 66 percent of all deaths from 2010–14. This is particularly marked in unintentional (for example transport crashes) and intentional (for example suicide and assault) injury deaths at 74 and 69 percent respectively.

Dr Dumble says children and youth are most vulnerable in their first year of life and during adolescence.

'Some of the largest reductions we have seen in the past decade come from work around SUDI, which affects those in their first year of life. For adolescents the largest reductions have come from fewer road traffic crashes – probably a combined result of raising the driving age, graduated licences and a zero alcohol policy for under 20s.'

Suicide is the cause of over one-third of deaths among those aged 15–24 years. The number of deaths due to suicide in this age range has remained around the same level for over a decade.

The report can be downloaded below.

Last updated 08/06/2016