Deaths of babies reach new low

Deaths of babies and young people have dropped to their lowest ever number, new figures show.

The Child and Youth Mortality Review Committee has found the number of deaths for those aged between 28 days and 24 years reduced from 699 in 2008 to 600 in 2012.

It was the lowest figure since records began in 1979.

Data on leading causes of death showed the reduction was driven in part by a drop in the rate of cot deaths and fewer transport deaths among youth.

Cot deaths reduced from 55 in 2008 to 36 in 2012.

Deaths from car crashes for those aged between 15 and 24 reduced from 135 in 2008 to 75 in 2012.

Committee chairman Nick Baker said a combination of factors were gradually bringing positive change in these areas.

Improved safe sleep policies and community awareness of safe sleep practices had helped the improvement in cot death rates, he said.

However, those rates were still among the highest in the OECD, and rates among Maori were disproportionately high compared with non-Maori. 

The drop in youth traffic death rates was likely due to a combination of better roads and cars, graduated driver licensing, good policing, zero alcohol tolerance, and increased awareness among youth about the dangers of driving, he said.

The committee operates under the umbrella of the Government's Health Quality and Safety Commission.

Fairfax Media