About the fetal and infant deaths web tool

The web tool presents a summary of fetal and infant deaths, with a focus on deaths and stillbirths registered in 2020. 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).

Note: Data for 2019 and 2020 is not complete as the Ministry is yet to receive cause of death information for some deaths being investigated by the coroner. Cause of death information for these years is not yet complete enough to release publicly. The web tool will be updated with cause of death information for these years when coroners complete their findings.

Pātiki and Waharua Kōpito patterns

Fetal and infant deaths web tool

The data presented in this web tool can be explored by demographic, 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

Overview

  • There were 434 fetal deaths and 278 infant deaths registered in 2020.
  • This equates to a fetal death rate of 7.4 per 1000 total births, and an infant death rate of 4.8 per 1000 live births.
  • Between 1996 and 2020, there was a significant decrease in the infant death rate. The rate fell from 7.3 to 4.8 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 was between 6.1 and 8.5 per 1000 total births.
  • Between 2011 and 2020, the total number of live births decreased by around 6.5%. The total number of live births each year can influence the rate of fetal and infant deaths.

By ethnic group

  • In 2020, there were no significant differences in fetal death rates between ethnic groups, consistent with the previous five-year period (2015–2019).
  • In 2020, Infant death rates were significantly higher in Māori and Pacific ethnic groups (6.1 and 7.1, respectively) than rates in Asian peoples (3.0).
  • In the previous five-year period (2015–2019), infant death rates for the Māori and Pacific peoples ethnic groups (5.4 and 7.2, respectively) were significantly higher than rates for the European or Other and Asian ethnic groups (3.6 and 3.3, respectively).

 

By maternal age group

  • In 2020, the fetal death rate was highest among women in the 35-39 years age group (8.8 per 1000 total births).
  • In the same year, the infant death rate was highest among women <20 years of age (9.2 per 1000 live births).
  • In the previous five-year period (2015–2019), the infant death rate for babies of women aged <20 years (8.4 per 1000 live births) was higher than for babies of women in all other age groups.

 

By socioeconomic deprivation

  • In 2020, the fetal death rate was similar across most deprivation quintiles, although the fetal death rate in deprivation quintile 4 (9 per 1000 total births) was significantly higher than that in deprivation quintile 2 (5.2 per 1000 total births).
  • The highest infant death rates in 2020 were for the most deprived areas (quintile 5). In the most deprived areas, the infant death rate was close to 2 times the rate in the least deprived areas (quintile 5, 6.7 per 1000 live births, and quintile 1, 3.9 per 1000 live births). A similar ratio was observed in the previous five-year period (2015–2019).

 

By gestation period

  • Approximately 81% of fetal deaths and 69% of infant deaths registered in 2020 were preterm (<37 weeks’ gestation), the majority of which were very preterm (<28 weeks’ gestation).

 

By birthweight

  • Approximately 64% of fetal deaths registered in 2020 had a birthweight of less than 1000g, and approximately 39% had a birthweight of less than 500g.
  • Approximately 48% of infant deaths had a birthweight of less than 1000g, and approximately 25% weighed 500–999g at birth.

Note: The number of fetal and infant deaths in New Zealand is small and may cause rates to fluctuate markedly from year to year. Rates derived from small numbers should be interpreted with caution.

About the data

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

At the time the data was extracted there were 21 infant deaths awaiting final coroners' findings for 2019 and 40 infant deaths awaiting final coroners' findings for 2020. The number of deaths with no known cause is too high for cause of death information for these years to be considered complete, as such the web tool does not include cause of death information for these years.

For 2018 data, all deaths had a provisional cause of death assigned, and 9 infant deaths were awaiting coroners’ final findings at the time of extract. 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 Te Whatu Ora if you have any concerns regarding any of the data or analyses presented here. We make 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.