13th data report of the Child and Youth Mortality Review Committee

26 Apr 2018 | Child & Youth Mortality Review Committee

The 13th data report of the Child and Youth Mortality Review Committee (CYMRC) has been released. 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.

This report, covering 2012–2016, shows that in 2016, 483 children and young people died. This is the lowest number of deaths in a single year since the CYMRC was established in 2002. While the reduced number of deaths shows a general decrease over time, the numbers of deaths continue to fluctuate from year to year (eg, 535 in 2015 and 486 in 2014).

The report found significant links between deprivation and mortality and ethnicity and mortality. The statistics show that children and young people living in the most deprived areas were three times more likely to die than those living in the least deprived areas. It also found that Māori and Pacific children are more likely to die compared to children from other ethnic backgrounds. Māori children and young people have the highest mortality rates (52.28 per 100,000) while Asian children and young people had the lowest mortality rate (19.10 per 100,000).

Suicide was the leading cause of death in young Māori aged 15–24 years. Compared to non-Māori non-Pacific, deaths due to suicide in Māori tend to begin at a younger age: 60 percent of all suicide deaths in those aged 10–14 years were tamariki Māori.

To address its concerns about the high rates of suicide among Māori young people (rangatahi), the CYMRC is working on a collaborative project that takes an in-depth look at data on rangatahi suicide, and aims to identify areas for prevention and quality improvement.

This is the first time CYMRC has reported an analysis of mortality rates for Pacific children and young people. Compared to non-Pacific non-Māori, there are high mortality rates for infants under a year old, and high suicide rates in children and young people aged 10–19. This pattern of mortality is similar to that seen in Māori children and young people.

Other findings were:

  • the leading cause of death for children and young people overall was medical conditions (38.8 percent) followed by unintentional injury (27.7 percent) and intentional injury (25.3 percent)
  • sudden unexpected death, either in infancy (SUDI) or in those aged 12–23 months (SUD), accounted for 7.6 percent of all deaths
  • Māori children and young people continue to have the highest mortality rate (52.28 per 100,000), followed by Pacific (45.36 per 100,000), European and Other (27.52 per 100,000) and Middle Eastern Latin American African (MELAA; 24.13 per 100,000). Asian children and young people had the lowest mortality rate (19.10 per 100,000)
  • Māori and Pacific children and young people had higher mortality rates than non-Māori non-Pacific children and young people in all age groups except for five to nine years
  • Children and young people living in the most deprived areas were three times more likely to die than those living in the least deprived areas
  • In the period 2002–2016 there were 1758 deaths due to suicide, which is the leading cause of death in adolescents.

The data report is produced annually using data held by the NZ Mortality Review Data Group (University of Otago). It gives an overview of all causes of death while special topic reports, also produced annually, look in-depth at one specific cause of death. The data reports are primarily aimed at researchers and policy makers in DHBs and nationally.

Last updated 29/04/2018