UK children are at a higher risk of premature death than their Western European counterparts, according to a report by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH).
The report by RCPCH 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 19.
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.
Dr Hilary Cass, president of the RCPCH, said: “We know there are things that all healthcare professionals can be doing better to help reduce avoidable child deaths – whether that’s early detection of problems, safe prescribing or using effective tools such as asthma plans to manage conditions.
“But if we’re to make real inroads into reducing these tragic mortality figures, we cannot do it alone. It’s time that political parties of all colours took health inequalities seriously. At the moment, policies to reduce child mortality are too piecemeal, not targeted and fail to address the underlying causes.”
Dr Ingrid Wolfe, lead author of the report and child public health expert, said: “Social and economic inequalities are matters of life and death for children. Countries that spend more on social protection have lower child mortality rates. The messages are stark and crucial. Poverty kills children. Equity saves lives. Social protection is life-saving medicine for the population.”