This section presents data and statistics on asthma deaths, hospitalisations and prevalence in New Zealand children. You can download factsheets from the Downloads box.
New Zealand has high asthma rates compared with other countries [4, 5].
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Each year, a small number of children die from asthma
In 2016 there were over 6000 hospitalisations for asthma in children
Asthma hospitalisation rates were higher for young children
Pacific children have the highest asthma hospitalisation rates
Auckland, Lakes, Whanganui and Hutt DHBs had the highest asthma hospitalisation rates
Children living in the most deprived areas have higher asthma hospitalisation rates
In 2016/17 about 114,000 children had medicated asthma – a decrease from 2015/16
Higher rates of medicated asthma among Māori children and in more deprived areas
Whanganui, MidCentral and Hutt Valley DHBs had the highest rates of medicated asthma
Information about the data
A small number of children die from asthma each year in New Zealand. In 2014, four children died from asthma (Figure 1).
Figure 1: Annual number of asthma deaths, children aged 0–14 years, 2001–2014
Source: New Zealand Mortality Collection
In 2016, there were 6271 hospitalisations for asthma (including wheeze) among children aged 0–14 years.
The age-standardised rate for asthma hospitalisations increased from 2002 (473 per 100,000) to 2016 (688 per 100,000) (Figure 2).
Figure 2: Asthma hospitalisation rate, children aged 0–14 years, 2001–2016
In 2016, children aged 0–4 years had a much higher asthma hospitalisation rate (1396 per 100,000) than children aged 5–9 years (433 per 100,000) or 10–14 years (217 per 100,000).
In 2016, the asthma hospitalisation rate was much higher in Pacific children (Figure 3).
Figure 3: Asthma hospitalisation rate, by ethnic group, children aged 0–14 years, 2016
In 2016, the asthma hospitalisation rate was much higher for children living in more deprived areas (NZDep2013 quintile 5) (Figure 4).
Figure 4: Asthma hospitalisation rate, by NZDep2013 quintiles, children aged 0–14 years, 2016
In 2016, the highest asthma hospitalisation rates were in Auckland, Lakes, Whanganui and Hutt DHBs. See the factsheet for more details (in the Downloads box).
In 2016/17, 14.3% of children aged 2–14 years had asthma and were taking medication (inhalers, medicine, tablets or pills) for it. This is about 114,000 children.
The percentage of children with medicated asthma decreased from 16.6% in 2015/16 to 14.3% in 2016/17.
Across age groups, the rates of medicated asthma were 12.4% for children aged 2–4 years, 16.3% for children aged 5–9 years, and 13.3% for children aged 10–14 years.
In 2016/17, the highest rate of medicated asthma was among Māori children (17.8%) (Figure 5).
Figure 5: Prevalence of medicated asthma, children aged 2–14 years, by ethnic group, 2016/17 (unadjusted prevalence)
Children living in the most deprived areas had a much higher rate of medicated asthma (17.0%) than children in the least deprived areas (11.7%) (Figure 6).
Figure 6: Prevalence of medicated asthma, children aged 2–14 years, by NZDep2013 quintiles, 2016/17 (unadjusted prevalence)
In 2014–2017, the District Health Boards (DHBs) with the highest rates of medicated asthma were Whanganui DHB (24.4%), MidCentral DHB (21.8%) and Hutt Valley DHB (20.5%).
Figure 7: Prevalence of medicated asthma, children aged 2–14 years, by District Health Board, 2014–17 (unadjusted prevalence)
See the factsheet for more details (in the Downloads box).
Source: National Minimum Dataset, Ministry of Health
Definition: Acute and semi-acute hospitalisations with asthma (ICD-10AM J45–J46) or wheeze (R06.2) as the primary diagnosis, for children aged 0–14 years. Analyses excluded overseas visitors, deaths, and transfers within and between hospitals. Age-standardised rates per 100,000 people have been presented.
Source: New Zealand Health Survey, Ministry of Health
Definition: Children aged 2–14 years who have been diagnosed by a doctor as having asthma, and who currently take medication (inhalers, medicine, tablets, pills or other medication) for it.
For more information about these indicators, see the metadata sheets (in the Downloads box).
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