Children's environmental health indicators

This section summarises the latest Environmental Health Indicators for children in New Zealand, for selected domains.

You can find specific information and factsheets about children's environmental health in the links to each indicator.  

On this page

Children and the indoor environment 
Children and transport

Children and the indoor environment

Indicator Key findings

Household crowding

  • About one in seven children aged 0-14 years (15.9%) lived in crowded houses in 2013.
Second-hand smoke exposure
  • In 2012/13, 5.0% of children aged 0-14 years were exposed to second-hand smoke in their home. This is about 45,000 children.
  • Fewer children were exposed to second-hand smoke in their home in 2012/13 (5.0%) than in 2006/07 (9.6%). 
Maternal smoking
  • In 2018, 9.4% of mothers who gave birth were smoking at two weeks after birth. This had decreased from 113.7% in 2009.
  • Māori mothers continue to have the highest smoking rates than any other ethnicity between 2009 and 2018. However, smoking rates among Māori mothers have declined from 32.4% in 2009 to 25.0% in 2018.
  • In 2018, there were 7,182 asthma-related hospitalisations (including wheeze) among children
    aged 0–14 years in New Zealand.
  • The age-standardised rate for asthma hospitalisations increased from 2002 (473 per 100,000) to 2018 (779 per 100,000).   
  • In 2018/19, about 110,000 children aged 2–14 years had asthma and were taking medication for it. The asthma rate had decreased from 16.6% in 2015/16 to 13.1% in 2018/19. Rates of medicated asthma were higher among boys, and Māori and Pacific children.
Lower respiratory tract infections
  • In 2016 there were over 9000 hospitalisations for lower respiratory tract infections in children aged 0-4 years.
  • The rate has increased from 2815 per 100,000 in 2001, to 3050 per 100,000 in 2016. 
Sudden unexpected death in infancy (SUDI)
  • In 2016, 42 children aged under one year old died from SUDI, a rate of 0.7 per 1,000 live births. Since 2000, the SUDI rate has decreased considerably, although it has increased slightly from 2012 to 2014
  • In 2012–16, SUDI rates were higher among Māori and Pacific babies, and among babies living in the most deprived areas. 
Meningococcal disease 
  • In 2018, there were 46 notifications (out of 120) of meningococcal disease in children aged 0–14 years. 
  • The rate of meningococcal notifications has doubled since 2014.
  • Meningococcal Group B continues to be the most dominant strain in children.
  • The highest notification rates were in infants, Māori children, Pacific children, and children living in the most deprived areas.  

Children and transport 

Indicator Key findings

Active transport to and from school

  • In 2019/20, less than half (42.4%) of children aged 5-14 years usually used active transport (such as walking and cycling) to get to and from school. 
  • There has been no significant change in the use of active transport among 5-14-year-olds in over 10 years, from 2006/07 to 2019/20.
Unmet need for GP services due to a lack of transport
  • In 2019/20, 1.6% of children aged 0-14 years had a medical problem but did not visit a GP due to a lack of transport, in the last 12 months. This is about 15,000 children.
  • There has been no significant change in the percentage of children with unmet need for a GP due to a lack of transport between 2011/12(3.0%) and 2019/20.
Road traffic injury deaths and hospitalisations
  • In 2016, 12 children aged 0-14 years died from traffic injury, the majority as vehicle occupants (8 deaths).
  • The mortality rate for traffic injuries for children remained mostly unchanged between 2010 and 2016.
  • In 2019, there were 269 hospitalisations for traffic injuries for children, most of which were for vehicle occupant injuries (56.5%) or pedestrian injuries (25.3%). 
  • The overall traffic injury hospitalisation rate for children aged 0-14 years has been stable from 2012 onwards.
  • Māori children had traffic injury mortality rates which were three times higher than those of children of other ethnicities and represented 52% of all traffic-related deaths between 2007–16.
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