Each year, a small number of children die from asthma
A small number of children die from asthma each year in New Zealand. In 2016, five children died from asthma (Figure 1).
Figure 1: Annual number of asthma deaths, children aged 0–14 years, 2001–2016
In 2016 there were over 6000 hospitalisations for asthma in children
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
Asthma hospitalisation rates were higher for young children
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).
Pacific children have the highest asthma hospitalisation rates
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
Children living in the most deprived areas have higher asthma hospitalisation rates
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
Auckland, Lakes, Whanganui and Hutt DHBs had the highest asthma hospitalisation rates
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).
1 in 7 children aged 2-14 years had medicated asthma in 2017/18
In 2017/18, 14.9% of children aged 2–14 years had asthma and were taking medication (inhalers, medicine, tablets or pills) for it (Figure 5). This is about 122,000 children.
The percentage of children with medicated asthma over the last ten years has been relatively consistent, adjusting for age differences.
Figure 5: Medicated asthma, children aged 2-14 years, 2006/07-2017/18 (unadjusted prevalence)
Boys were more likely to have medicated asthma than girls
In 2017/18, boys had a much higher rate of medicated asthma (17.3%) than girls (12.3%).
The percentage of children taking asthma medication was somewhat higher for children aged 5-9 years (16.0%) and 10-14 (15.8%) (Figure 6).
Figure 6: Medicated asthma, children aged 2-14 years, by sex and age group, 2017/18 (unadjusted prevalence)
Higher rates of medicated asthma among Maori children and in more deprived areas
In 2017/18, the highest rate of medicated asthma was among Māori children (22.9%), followed by Pacific children (16.4%) and European/Other children (14.5%). Adjusting for age and sex differences, Māori children were 1.9 times more likely than non-Māori children to have medicated asthma.
Children living in the most deprived areas (NZDep2013 quintile 5) had a much higher rate of medicated asthma (19.0%) than children in the least deprived areas (12.5%) (Figure 7).
Figure 7: Medicated asthma, children aged 2–14 years, by neighbourhood deprivation (NZDep2013 quintiles), 2017/18 (unadjusted prevalence)
Highest rates of medicated asthma in Whanganui, MidCentral and Hutt Valley DHBs in 2014-17
In 2014–17, Whanganui DHB (24.4%), MidCentral DHB (21.9%) and Hutt Valley DHB (20.5%) had the highest rates of medicated asthma compared to the national rate (Figure 8).
Figure 8: 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).
Information about the data
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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