A Fair Start? Child Mortality and Morbidity in the South West.

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Bray, I., Brown, P., Cooke, H. and Parker, L. (2010) A Fair Start? Child Mortality and Morbidity in the South West. Other. South West Public Health Observatory, Bristol, UK. Available from: http://eprints.uwe.ac.uk/20661

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Children in the South West region are, overall, healthier than their counterparts in other regions. However, many of the child deaths and much of the morbidity are potentially avoidable, suggesting that there is still considerable room for improvement. In order to understand how best these improvements can be made, and which areas, causes and population groups should be prioritised, it is essential to understand variations by age group, sex, deprivation and geography. This report has used readily available sources of information to highlight some of these variations. Findings of particular importance are: • Infant mortality rates are generally low in the region compared to England. Latest estimates suggest that the inequalities target for the South West is tough but achievable by 2010. In addition, the region does not compare favourably to some of its European counterparts on child health indicators, highlighting the fact that there is more to be done. If infant mortality in the South West as a whole was at the level of the quintile with the lowest mortality, about 50 infant lives could be saved each year. • Mortality rates in children aged 1–19 are generally lower than in the first year of life, but these still exhibit a steep socioeconomic gradient and a large proportion are potentially avoidable. The main causes of death vary by age and sex, but injuries, suicides and cancers are the biggest contributors, making up over 50% of all causes. Almost two-thirds of male deaths and half of female deaths are classified as potentially avoidable. • There is also strong evidence of a steep socioeconomic gradient for child morbidity in the region. • Hospital admission rates in the South West are higher than for England, and the causes of these admissions vary by age, sex and deprivation. In younger children (aged 0–4) acute respiratory infections predominate, while the most common causes in children aged 5–14 are injuries, especially in boys. The most common reason for admissions in the 15–19 age group is neoplasms and accidents for boys, and abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting, and abortive pregnancy for girls. Deliberate self-harm features among the reasons for emergency admission of girls of 15–19. • Generally, injuries, self-harm, abortive pregnancy and ear, nose and throat (ENT) conditions contribute most to childhood morbidity in the South West. These results show that, despite the fact that children in the South West are, on average, healthier than their counterparts elsewhere in England, there are still large numbers suffering from potentially avoidable conditions, which in some cases result in death. The majority of these cases appear to be concentrated in the most deprived communities. It is therefore paramount that decisions and interventions focused on the health of children in the South West are targeted at the populations most at risk and at potentially avoidable causes.

Item Type: Report or Working Paper (Other)
Uncontrolled Keywords: adolescent, age groups, aged, child, children, death, disease, disability, health status, health, public health, health promotion, ill health, juvenile delinquency, mortality, older people, very old people, vulnerable road users, young people
Faculty/Department: Faculty of Health and Applied Sciences
Depositing User: Dr I. Bray
Date Deposited: 10 Jul 2013 14:53
Last Modified: 17 May 2016 11:30
URI: http://eprints.uwe.ac.uk/id/eprint/20661


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