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UK Children and Young People have higher death rates

posted 5 May 2014, 04:34 by Damian Wood   [ updated 5 May 2014, 04:36 ]
UK children are at a higher risk of premature death than their Western European counterparts due to the growing gap between rich and poor and a lack of targeted public health policies to reduce child deaths, finds a new report from the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) and the National Children’s Bureau (NCB), launched today.

Every year, an estimated 2,000 additional children– that’s 5 a day – die in the UK compared to the best performing country, Sweden. 

The report, Why Children Die, written by Dr Ingrid Wolfe and other leading child health experts, including Michael Marmot*, finds that many of the causes of child death – including perinatal deaths and suicides, disproportionally affect the most disadvantaged in society, and says that many child deaths could be prevented through a combination of societal changes, political engagement and improved training for children’s healthcare professionals.

Why Children Die reviewed existing UK evidence on child deaths and their causes, and found that:
  • In 2012 over 3000 babies died before age one and over 2000 children and young people died between the ages of one and nineteen.
  • Over half of deaths in childhood occur during the first year of a child’s life, and are strongly influenced by pre-term delivery and low birth weight; with risk factors including maternal age, smoking and disadvantaged circumstances.
  • Suicide remains a leading cause of death in young people in the UK, and the number of deaths due to intentional injuries and self-harm have not declined in 30 years. 
  • After the age of one, injury is the most frequent cause of death; over three quarters of deaths due to injury in the age bracket of 10-18 year olds are related to traffic incidents.
The report highlights the importance of access to high quality healthcare for children and young people, calling for a reduction in preventable deaths through better training of healthcare professionals to enable confident, competent, early identification and treatment of illness, and better use of tools such as epilepsy passports, asthma plans and coordinated care between hospitals and schools.

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