Child injury mortality in New Zealand 1986-95

J Paediatr Child Health. 2000 Oct;36(5):431-9. doi: 10.1046/j.1440-1754.2000.00559.x.


Objectives: Injury has been described as 'the last major plague of the young'. We provide an epidemiological description of injury, as a leading cause of death in New Zealand, and identify options for prevention.

Methods: We identified all deaths due to any cause for the period 1986-95 from the national data and calculated the potential years of life lost for each death. For the same period, we identified all injury deaths for children aged 0-14 years. Causes of injury were examined in four age groups.

Results: In the population as a whole, injury was the fourth leading cause of death and the leading cause of potential years of life lost. Injury killed children at the rate of 16.8 per 100,000 person-years. The victims were predominantly male (62%) and 52% were under 5 years of age. In infancy (<1 year of age), suffocation was the leading cause of injury mortality. From 1 to 14 years of age, motor vehicle traffic incidents were the leading cause of mortality.

Conclusions: Motor vehicle traffic incidents, drowning, suffocation and suicide stood out as areas with the greatest potential for reducing child injury mortality. A number of existing prevention strategies show promise (e.g. child restraints), others are inadequately implemented (e.g. swimming pool fencing) or are of unknown efficacy (e.g. government suicide prevention policies). Strategies to reduce infant suffocation and child non-traffic pedestrian deaths remain to be developed and tested.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • New Zealand / epidemiology
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Wounds and Injuries / etiology
  • Wounds and Injuries / mortality*
  • Wounds and Injuries / prevention & control