Fetal and Infant Deaths web tool

Published online: 
25 November 2021
Fetal and Infant Deaths web tool.

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Summary

The Fetal and Infant Deaths web tool presents a summary of fetal and infant deaths, with a focus on deaths and stillbirths registered in 2018. Information presented includes demographic information (eg ethnicity and sex), cause of death, gestation and birthweight, as well as deaths classified as sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and sudden unexpected death in infancy (SUDI).

Key findings for 2018

Overview

  • There were 414 fetal deaths and 255 infant deaths registered in 2018.
  • This equates to a fetal death rate of 7.0 per 1000 total births, and an infant death rate of 4.3 per 1000 live births.
  • Between 1996 and 2018, there was a significant decrease in the infant death rate. The rate fell from 7.3 to 4.3 infant deaths per 1000 live births. This decrease was primarily due to a notable decrease in post-neonatal deaths.
  • Over the same time period, the fetal death rate ranged between 6.1 and 8.5 per 1000 total births.
  • Between 2009 and 2018, the total number of live births decreased by around 7.0%. The total number of live births each year can influence the rate of fetal and infant deaths.

By ethnic group

  • There was no significant difference in fetal death rates between ethnic groups in 2018, consistent with the previous five-year period (2013–2017).
  • In 2018, there were no significant differences in infant death rates between ethnic groups.
  • In the previous five-year period (2013–2017), infant death rates for the Māori and Pacific peoples ethnic groups (5.9 and 7.4, respectively) were significantly higher than rates for the Asian and European or Other ethnic groups (4 and 3.7, respectively).

By maternal age group

  • In 2018, the fetal death rate was highest among women in the 40+ years age group (13.3 per 1000 total births).
  • In the same year, the infant death rate was highest among women <20 years of age (8.3 per 1000 live births).
  • In the previous five-year period (2013–2017), the infant death rate for babies of women aged <20 years (9.8 per 1000 live births) was significantly higher than for babies of women in all other age groups.

By socioeconomic deprivation

  • In 2018, the fetal death rate was similar across most deprivation quintiles, although the fetal death rate in deprivation quintile 4 (7.8 per 1000 total births) was significantly higher than that in deprivation quintile 1 (4.6 per 1000 total births).
  • The highest infant death rates in 2018 were for the most deprived areas (quintile 5). In the most deprived areas, the infant death rate was 1.9 times the rate in the least deprived areas (quintile 5, 5.4 per 1000 live births, and quintile 1, 2.9 per 1000 live births). A similar ratio was observed in the previous five-year period (2013–2017).

By gestation period

  • Approximately 82% of fetal deaths and 63% of infant deaths registered in 2018 were preterm (<37 weeks’ gestation), the majority of which were very preterm (<28 weeks’ gestation).

By birthweight

  • Approximately 65% of fetal deaths registered in 2018 had a birthweight of less than 1000 g, and approximately 46% had a birthweight of less than 500 g.
  • Approximately 47% of infant deaths had a birthweight of less than 1000 g, and approximately 20% weighed 500–999 g at birth.

Sudden unexpected death in infancy (SUDI)

  • There were 38 sudden unexpected death in infancy (SUDI) deaths in 2018, including 24 sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) deaths. The SUDI deaths included 20 males and 18 females.
  • The SUDI rate in 2018 was 0.6 per 1000 live births. In the period 2014–2018, the SUDI rate was between 0.6 and 0.8 per 1000 live births.
  • In the five-year period 2014–2018, 
    • SUDI rates for babies in the Māori and Pacific peoples ethnic groups were significantly higher than the total rate for babies in all ethnic groups, while SUDI rates for babies in the Asian and European or Other ethnic groups were significantly lower than the total rate.
    • SUDI rates for babies of mothers aged <20 and 20–24 years were significantly higher than the total rate for babies of mothers in all age groups.
    • The SUDI rate for babies born in the most deprived areas (quintile 5) was significantly higher than the rate for all other deprivation quintiles.

About the data used in this edition

This dataset is a continuation of the Fetal and Infant Deaths series.

At the time the data was extracted there were 14 infant deaths awaiting coroners' findings. These deaths may be assigned a provisional code based on limited information available at the time, while deaths with no known cause awaiting coroners’ findings are coded to R99, ‘Other ill-defined and unspecified causes of mortality’, or X59, ‘Exposure to unspecified factor’. Deaths for which a cause is still to be determined or confirmed will be updated in the next edition of Fetal and Infant Deaths as the coroners complete their findings. 

Disclaimer

This web tool presents data to the latest year for which data is available for publication. We have quality checked the collection, extraction, and reporting of the data presented here. However, errors can occur. Please contact us through the Data Services team at the Ministry of Health if you have any concerns regarding any of the data or analyses presented here. The Ministry of Health makes no warranty, expressed or implied, nor assumes legal liability or responsibility for the accuracy, correctness or use of the information or data in this tool.

Publishing information

  • Date of publication:
    25 November 2021
  • Citation:
    Ministry of Health. 2021. Fetal and Infant Deaths web tool. Wellington: Ministry of Health.
  • Ordering information:
    Only soft copy available to download
  • Copyright status:

    Owned by the Ministry of Health and licensed for reuse under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Licence.

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