Plunket welcomes lower infant mortality rates

Plunket welcomes the latest statistics showing a continued fall in New Zealand’s infant mortality rates, including for Māori infants.

Plunket Chief Executive Amanda Malu says it is the long-term trend in the statistics, which show New Zealand’s infant mortality rate was down to 3.8 deaths per 1000 live births in 2018 compared with 5.0 per 1000 in 2008, that she is pleased about. She also welcomes the drop in Māori rates, although acknowledges that at 4.9 deaths per 1000 births in 2018 (down from 6.7 in 2008) there is still much more work to be done.

“We know our Plunket nurses are working hard in communities to deliver messages and to provide the help and support mums, dads and whānau need to keep their children and tamariki safe.

“They’re checking and asking if the baby is on their back for every sleep, if the baby is in a smokefree home and car, is being exclusively breastfed to about six months and is getting their immunisations on time.

“All these actions can help and have a positive effect on the lifelong health outcomes for their children.”

Ms Malu, a member of the SUDI (Sudden Unexpected Death in Infancy) Prevention Co-ordination Service Expert Advisory Group, says Plunket’s own information shows there is a positive upward trend with breastfeeding rates, with the numbers of babies being exclusively breastfed at six months increasing from 16% to 21% between 2008 to 2017.

“We do know that these are key actions to reduce infant mortality given the main preventable causes are SUDI, medical (infectious diseases and diseases of the respiratory system) and unintentional injury.”

With many families facing more complex health and living circumstances, Ms Malu knows that the work to support parents in looking after their families and whānau is ongoing.

“Plunket was established more than 110 years ago to help mothers and save babies who were dying from malnutrition and disease, so improving outcomes in this area is in our DNA.”

The infant mortality statistics were released by Statistics New Zealand.  


For more details please contact Plunket’s media adviser: 04 460 4680 or

25 February 2019

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