Record low infant mortality rate

New Zealand's infant mortality rate fell to record lows last year.

Official statistics show 256 babies under one year of age died in 2012, compared to 290 the year before.

Statistics New Zealand said that puts the infant mortality rate in 2012 at 4.2 deaths per 1000 live births, down from 4.7 in 2011.

Ten years earlier, the rate was 5.6 deaths per 1000 live births.

Last year's was the lowest rate ever recorded in New Zealand.

Statistics NZ senior demographer Kim Dunstan said there's been a downward trend of infant deaths year on year.

The agency also said life expectancy figures are the highest they have ever been: women are expected to live till 83, and men until 79.4 years.

Next story in National: Parents urged to check driveways