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Infant mortality rate hits record low

The number of babies dying in New Zealand hit a record low last year.

Statistics New Zealand today released data showing 256 infant deaths were registered in 2012.

There were 290 deaths the year before.

"The infant mortality rate in 2012 was the lowest ever recorded in New Zealand," population statistics project manager Joel Watkins said.

The infant mortality rate was 4.2 infant deaths per 1000 live births in 2012, down from 4.7 in 2011, and 5.6 in 2002.

According to the organisation, the lower rate was due to a decrease in the number of Maori babies dying.

In 2012, 82 Maori babies died, compared to the year before where 123 died.

"The Māori post-neonatal mortality rate (infants aged four weeks and over) also dropped," said Statistics New Zealand.

"In 2012 there were 2.5 post-neonatal deaths per 1,000 live births, down from 3.8 in 2011."

But the organisation said fluctuations in the infant mortality rate should be treated with caution because of the small number of infant deaths each year.

It noted the long term trend showed the infant mortality rate had decreased more slowly in the last decade than in previous eras.

An infant is classed as a child under one-year-old.

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- Fairfax Media

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