Media Release | Unintentional Child Injuries Declining > Safekids Aotearoa


According to Safekids Aotearoa’s recently released report Child Unintentional Deaths and Injuries in New Zealand, and Prevention Strategies, overall unintentional injury death rates have declined by 19% between 2001 and 2010.

Leading causes of unintentional child deaths during the period 2001-2010 where rates decreased were: 

  • Motor vehicle crash deaths involving children as passengers, down 48%. 
  • Non-motor vehicle traffic deaths, which includes pedestrians, scooter and cycling-related injuries, down 21%. 
  • Drowning deaths are down 47%.

The leading causes of child hospitalisation where rates decreased during the period 2001 – 2012 were: 

  • Falls, down 27%
  • Inanimate mechanical forces, or crushing, piercing and jamming injuries from objects, down 26%.
  • Non-motor vehicle traffic deaths, which includes pedestrians, scooter and cycling-related injuries, down 33%.

In contrast, choking, suffocation and strangulation injury rates, which include Sudden Unexpected Death in Infancy (SUDI) cases, doubled between 2001 and 2010. This has been the leading cause of unintentional child injury deaths during the period—overtaking motor vehicle crash deaths. 

Safekids Aotearoa Director Ann Weaver said that the decline in unintentional childhood injuries is good news. “It shows that investments in child injury prevention, such as environment and product modification, legislation and education, are working.”

Ms. Weaver however said a lot more work needs to be done. 

“The investment in child injury prevention in New Zealand is low relative to its social and economic cost, and child injury rates in New Zealand are still considerably high when compared to other OECD nations.”

“Safekids Aotearoa is working with the government to ensure child safety measures are a key priority area for the government's policy and strategic health plans. We’d like to see the adoption of evidence-based and best practice legislation, such as mandatory child restraint use for children under 148cm in height, and continued support for four-sided pool fencing and the enforcement of safety helmets laws for cyclists.” 

Other findings in the report remained similar to the previous period: Children under 5 had the highest rates of unintentional injury death; boys were 1.5 times more at risk; and Maori and Pacific children had the highest injury rate among all ethnicities. 

To download this report, visit our resources page.

Note to editors: 

  • The majority of deaths from SUDI occur in infants <1 year old.
  • Deaths data has around a 4-year time lag due to coronial inquests, police and court procedures.
  • Hospitalisation data has around a 2-year time lag due to normal quality assurance and testing procedures. 

For more information or interview requests, email Anthony Rola at or call 021555249.