26 Jun 2018

Maternity deaths drop but newborn deaths unchanged

8:00 am on 26 June 2018

Maternity deaths have dropped dramatically for the first time since 2006 but the newborn baby death rate remains unchanged.

Pregnant woman sitting on a bench.

Pregnant woman sitting on a bench. Photo: 123RF

Twelve years ago about one mother died for every 5500 births, but the latest available figures for 2016 show that has halved to one death for every 10,600 births.

But newborn babies are dying at the same rate they did twelve years ago, and a leading specialist says more must be done to reduce the numbers.

Sue Belgrave, who chairs the commission that reviews deaths around childbirth, said each one is a tragedy.

She said the majority of the deaths are babies who are born 20 weeks premature - and that mothers aged under 20, or who are Māori, Pasifika or Indian, have a higher risk of this happening to their baby.

Dr Belgrave said suicide is the leading cause of maternal death, and Māori women are over-represented in that group.

Where to get help:

Need to Talk? Free call or text 1737 any time to speak to a trained counsellor, for any reason.

Lifeline: 0800 543 354

Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 / 0508 TAUTOKO (24/7). This is a service for people who may be thinking about suicide, or those who are concerned about family or friends.

Depression Helpline: 0800 111 757 (24/7)

Samaritans: 0800 726 666 (24/7)

Youthline: 0800 376 633 (24/7) or free text 234 (8am-12am), or email talk@youthline.co.nz

What's Up: online chat (7pm-10pm) or 0800 WHATSUP / 0800 9428 787 children's helpline (1pm-10pm weekdays, 3pm-10pm weekends)

Kidsline (ages 5-18): 0800 543 754 (24/7)

Rural Support Trust Helpline: 0800 787 254

Healthline: 0800 611 116

Rainbow Youth: (09) 376 4155

If it is an emergency and you feel like you or someone else is at risk, call 111.

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