Using data to get the best for premature babies

  • Scott Simpson

Bringing together data from across government, a study looking into the lives of premature babies will help front-line doctors and parents make better informed choices about the care of their children, Statistics Minister Scott Simpson says.

The study, undertaken by researchers from Capital and Coast District Health Board and the University of Otago in Wellington, uses Stats NZ’s Integrated Data Infrastructure to look at a whole range of life events – including before-school checks, social development, health conditions, and educational qualifications – to understand the issues and enable better decisions and services to meet needs.

‘Linked data is critical for medical experts and researchers to understand the life course of premature babies, as well as giving parents a better understanding of what the future holds for their children,” Mr Simpson says.

“By looking at health, education, employment and social data of premature babies, and comparing them with other births, researchers can get a good picture of what happens to these babies as they progress to school and into adult life.”

The research team is looking closely at health, education, employment and social data including hospitalisation rates, attendance at school, special needs support, high school exam results, future health issues and employment. Full results are due to be released later in 2017.

The Integrated Data Infrastructure platform was established in 2012 as part of the government drive to improve evidence-based policy making and to promote the reuse of high value publicly held data.

Stats NZ has produced a short video about the research: