26 September 2023

More children living through early years

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Infant and child mortality rates in NSW have declined by almost 30 per cent according to a report from the NSW Ombudsman and Convenor of the NSW Child Death Review Team (CDRT).

In his NSW Child Death Review Team Annual Report 2021-22, Ombudsman and Convenor, Paul Miller said the Report concerned the deaths of 989 children who died in NSW in 2018 and 2019, and provided information about trends in child mortality over time.

“The Report examines the underlying risk factors that may have contributed to preventable deaths and seeks to identify actions that can and should be done to prevent or reduce the deaths of children in NSW in the future,” Mr Miller said.

“During the 15-year period from 2005 to 2019, the mortality rate for infants (aged less than one) declined by 30 per cent, from 4.7 to 3.3 deaths per 1,000 live births,” he said.

“For children aged one to 17 years, the mortality rate declined by 26 per cent, from 15.4 to 11.4 deaths per 100,000 children.”

Mr Miller said however that certain children had higher mortality rates than others, including those living in the most disadvantaged areas, those in regional and remote areas, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander infants and children, and those in families with a child protection history.

“Unlike other causes of death, the rate of suicide among children aged 10 to 17 years in NSW has significantly increased over the past 15 years,” the Ombudsman said.

“In 2018 and 2019, suicide was the leading cause of death for young people aged 15 to 17 years.”

He said the leading cause of death over the past five years differed according to age.

Mr Miller said that for infants the leading cause of death was perinatal conditions; for children aged one to 14 years, the leading cause was cancers and tumours; and for young people aged 15-17, the leading cause was suicide.

The CDRT made three recommendations in total, one each to NSW Health, Transport for NSW and the Department of Customer service.

The recommendations relate to an audit of the revised Sudden Unexpected Death in Infancy medical history protocol by NSW Health, guidance for young people to purchase safe cars, and public reporting of swimming pool compliance data.

The Ombudsman’s 74-page Report can be accessed at this PS News link.

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