Maori suffer more stillbirths and neonatal deaths and are less likely to receive medicine when they are sick than Pakeha in New Zealand, new reports show.
The Perinatal and Maternal Mortality Review Committee (PMMRC) this morning released a report assessing the deaths of babies and their mothers in New Zealand in 2009.
It found Maori and Pacific mothers are more likely to experience stillbirths or have a baby die before reaching 27 days old than New Zealand European and non-Indian Asian mothers.
Mothers who identified themselves as Maori had 9.4 stillbirths and 5.8 neonatal deaths per 1000 births.
New Zealand European mothers experienced 5.3 stillbirths and 1.9 neonatal deaths per 1000 births.
PMMRC chair Cynthia Farquhar said 14 per cent of all perinatal deaths were thought to be potentially avoidable.
"That amounts to 98 lives that could have potentially been saved."
Those findings came alongside the release of a University of Otago report showing Maori are much less likely to receive antibiotics when they are sick, despite experiencing far higher rates of rheumatic fever.
The report, led by School of Pharmacy researchers Pauline Norris and Simon Horsburgh, showed 51 per cent of the population received a prescription for one or more antibiotic in the last year.
Maori were seven per cent less likely to receive a prescription than non-Maori and received smaller quantities on average, the report found.
The gulf was wider for rural Maori children. Only 43 per cent in that category received antibiotics during the year, whereas 68 per cent of rural non-Maori, and over 80 per cent of urban children, did receive them, it found.
Dr Horsburgh said the statistics could be the result of M?ori not visiting the doctor as often, being prescribed antibiotics less frequently when they do visit, or not having their prescriptions filled.
"The findings are very worrying, because of the high rates of acute rheumatic fever in this area.
"Antibiotics are very cheap, whereas the long-term costs of rheumatic fever for individuals, whanau and the health system are immense."