Children living in private rental housing are less likely to be protected by safety measures like smoke alarms, property fences and safe power outlets, Auckland University researchers have found.
They say this provides a clear target for improving household safety in New Zealand.
From data in the university's Growing Up in New Zealand longitudinal study, the researchers looked for nine safety features in homes when the children were two years old.
They found that, compared with family owned-homes, private rentals had fewer of the features, while state-owned rentals had more.
The researchers say the finding for state-owned rentals may reflect the increased attention on the quality of social housing in recent years.
Overall, the average household had six of the features.
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The results, published in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, also show that less than 5 percent of the homes reported having all nine.
Since previous research has suggested safety measures in the home can prevent up to 90 percent of injuries, the researchers say private rentals could be targeted for injury prevention efforts.
Lead researcher Dr Sarah Berry says that New Zealand has a poor record for children being injured from falls, scalds and poisonings. She says these injuries often have long-lasting impacts for the children and their families.
"The burden is greatest among children living in more deprived households and so injuries contribute to the unequitable outcomes these children experience.
"In New Zealand, the home is the most common location for child injuries in the preschool years, so measures focusing on improving household safety are an important place to start if we are to reduce the rate of these injuries."