Incidence of acute rheumatic fever in New Zealand children and youth

J Paediatr Child Health. 2012 Aug;48(8):685-91. doi: 10.1111/j.1440-1754.2012.02447.x. Epub 2012 Apr 12.


Aim: To estimate acute rheumatic fever (ARF) incidence rates for New Zealand children and youth by ethnicity, socioeconomic deprivation and region.

Methods: National hospital admissions with a principal diagnosis of ARF (ICD9_AM 390-392; ICD10-AM I00-I02) were obtained from routine statistics and stratified by age, ethnicity, socioeconomic deprivation index (NZDep2006) and District Health Board (DHB).

Results: The mean incidence rate for ARF in 2000-2009 peaked at 9 to 12 years of age. Incidence rates for children 5 to 14 years of age for Māori were 40.2 (95% confidence interval 36.8, 43.8), Pacific 81.2 (73.4, 89.6), non-Māori/Pacific 2.1 (1.6, 2.6) and all children 17.2 (16.1, 18.3) per 100 000. Māori and Pacific incidence rates increased by 79% and 73% in 1993-2009, while non-Māori/Pacific rates declined by 71%. Overall rates increased by 59%. In 2000-2009, Māori and Pacific children comprised 30% of children 5-14 years of age but accounted for 95% of new cases. Almost 90% of index cases of ARF were in the highest five deciles of socioeconomic deprivation and 70% were in the most deprived quintile. A child living in the most deprived decile has about one in 150 risk of being admitted to the hospital for ARF by 15 years of age. Ten DHBs containing 76% of the population 5 to 14 years of age accounted for 94% of index cases of ARF.

Conclusions: ARF with its attendant rheumatic heart disease is an increasing public health issue for disadvantaged North Island communities with high concentrations of Māori and/or Pacific families.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Ethnicity
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • New Zealand / epidemiology
  • Rheumatic Fever / epidemiology*
  • Rheumatic Fever / ethnology
  • Socioeconomic Factors