UK & World News

  • 5 September 2014, 4:57

One In Five Child Deaths Are 'Preventable'

A fifth of all child and adolescent deaths in England have avoidable causes, a series of studies has revealed.

In total some 5,000 infants, children and teenagers under 18die prematurely every year in England and Wales.

Of these, researchers found that 20% of deaths between 2010 and 2011 could have been prevented.

The findings, published in The Lancet, listed "modifiable factors" such as accidents, fatal assaults, suicide, abuse and neglect among the leading causes of premature deaths.

These statistics were found to vary widely according to region and socioeconomic factors.

The number of preventable deaths were higher in the Midlands and the North, for example, than in the South and East.

The North East was the only exception, with death rates found to be relatively low.

Lead researcher Peter Sidebotham, from the University of Warwick, said: "What these variations in mortality tell us is that more could be done to prevent child deaths across all age groups.

"It needs to be recognised that many child deaths could be prevented through a combination of changes in long-term political commitment, welfare services to tackle child poverty, and healthcare services.

"Politicians should recognise that child survival is as much linked to socioeconomic policies that reduce inequality as it is to a country's overall gross domestic product and systems of healthcare delivery."

Dr Hilary Cass, president of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, described the findings as a "serious wake-up call for both healthcare professionals and policymakers".

"We have to act urgently," she said.

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