22 Sep 2021 | Child & Youth Mortality Review Committee
The 15th data report of the Child and Youth Mortality Review Committee is available to download from the bottom of this page, along with an infographic containing insights into the report.
For the news article that accompanies this publication, click here.
A report summary is given below.
In Aotearoa/New Zealand, during the period 2015–19, 2,666 children and young people aged 28 days to 24 years died. Overall, the leading category of death was medical conditions (36.8 percent), followed by injury (30.6 percent) and suicide (24.6 percent). Sudden unexpected death in infancy (SUDI) accounted for 7.4 percent of deaths.
By individual cause of death over the five years from 2015 to 2019, most deaths were from suicide (655), followed by transport incidents (498), cancers (218) and SUDI (198).
The leading category of death changes with age. Medical conditions were the most common cause of death in children aged younger than 15 years, suicide was the most common category in those aged 15–19 years and injury was the main cause in those aged 20–24 years.
During the five-year period of 2015–19, there were 1,012 deaths in tamariki and rangatahi Māori. There is a disproportionate impact of deprivation in Māori mortality. Overall, tamariki and rangatahi Māori had higher mortality rates compared with non-Māori non-Pacific children and youth. Large inequities remain in mortality rates. Other than for those aged five to nine years, mortality rates for tamariki and rangatahi Māori were statistically significantly higher than those for non-Māori non-Pacific children and young people at every age group.
During the five-year period 2015–19, there were 215 deaths in pēpi Māori aged 28 days to one year. Pēpi Māori were three times more likely to die than non-Māori non-Pacific infants (rate ratio 3.01, 95 percent confidence interval [CI] 2.44–3.70). The most common cause of death was SUDI, with 114 deaths. The next leading cause of death was medical conditions, with 88 deaths. For both SUDI and medical conditions, the mortality rate in Māori was statistically significantly higher than that in non-Māori non-Pacific babies (SUDI rate ratio 6.18, 95 percent CI 4.29–8.88; medical rate ratio 1.86, 95 percent CI 1.40–2.48). There were 12 deaths from injury.
For rangatahi Māori aged 15–19 years during the five years of 2015–19, the leading cause of death was suicide at 46 percent in this age group. The remaining deaths were due to injury (37 percent) and medical conditions (17 percent). Further analysis shows injury deaths were transport (n=74: 79 percent), followed by assault (n=5: 5 percent) and poisoning (n=4; 4 percent). Mortality rates for rangatahi Māori in this age group were statistically significantly higher both overall and for deaths due to injury and suicide, compared with non-Māori non-Pacific young people.
For rangatahi Māori aged 20–24 years, the leading cause of death was suicide (43 percent), followed by injury (34 percent) and medical conditions (22 percent). Transport incidents accounted for 64 percent of injury deaths (n=68). Rangatahi Māori had a higher overall mortality rate, compared with non-Māori non-Pacific young people (rate ratio 2.04, 95 percent CI 1.78–2.35), and statistically significantly higher mortality from each category of death.
During 2015–19, 390 Pacific children and young people died. Nearly half of these deaths (44.9 percent) were due to medical conditions.
During the period, there were 107 deaths in Pacific post-neonatal infants aged 28 days to one year. The leading category of death in this age group was SUDI (57.9 percent) followed by medical conditions (38.3 percent).
Marked inequities between Pacific and non-Pacific non-Māori children exist, with Pacific post-neonatal infants being much more likely to die overall (rate ratio 3.82, 95 percent CI 2.98–4.89) and to die from SUDI (rate ratio 8.57, 95 percent CI 5.74–12.79).
For every age group, excluding those aged five to nine years, Pacific children and young people were more likely to die overall compared with non-Pacific non-Māori children and young people, and were more likely to die from medical conditions
Note: The 15th data report’s Te takimate e ngā iwi Moana-nui-a-Kiwa | Pacific mortality chapter uses ‘total response’ ethnicity to determine Pacific mortality ethnicity in Pacific children and young people. This means that, if an individual has a Pacific ethnic group as any one of their ethnicities, they will be included. This chapter uses non-Pacific non-Māori as a comparator group. Therefore, Māori who do not also identify as Pacific (n=919) are excluded.
From 2002–19, transport was the cause of 2,330 deaths in children and young people aged 28 days to 24 years. Of these, 498 deaths occurred in the most recent five-year period, from 2015 to 2019.
While the number of deaths has been consistent over the past five-year period, numbers have fallen substantially since 2002 among the groups aged 15–19 years and 20–24 years.
Of all transport deaths, most (64.5 percent) were car occupants, 12.2 percent were pedestrians and 7.4 percent were motorcyclists. Pedestrian deaths occurred in all ages, with peaks in those aged one to four and 15–24 years.
The number of car occupant deaths peaked in those aged 18 years for both males and females. The highest mortality rates for cyclists were in those aged 10–14 years. Across all road user types, deaths in males outnumbered those in females by nearly three times.
Marked disparities were evident by prioritised ethnic category, particularly in car occupant and pedestrian deaths, where Māori had significantly higher rates than non-Māori non-Pacific children and young people.
 See page 22 of the full 15th data report for an explanation of prioritised ethnic category.