Child death rates three times higher in NT

The National Health Performance Authority report, released on Thursday, is the first of its kind that presents data at a local level for infant and young child mortality, smoking in pregnancy, antenatal visits and low-birthweight babies.

Data was collected from 61 Medicare Local catchments across Australia and the report shows wide variance in child death rates depending on address.

The highest rate was in the Northern Territory, with 9.2 deaths per 1000, while the lowest was in Bayside, Melbourne, with 2.6 children dying per 1000 before their fifth birthday.

"The numbers of infants and children who die prematurely has fallen rapidly in recent years on a population basis," the report said.

"Nevertheless, Australia has infant mortality rates three times higher than the best-performing countries."

While the report showed higher mortality rates in many regional and rural areas compared with metropolitan areas, and in lower-income