Britain behind other European Countries in Child Healthcare

Child health in the UK is lagging behind that of most other European countries, a major report has said. It raises particular concerns over rates of obesity, mental health issues and mortality among the young. The in-depth report, from the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, emphasized that poverty was at the root of many child health problems.  The government said £16bn was being invested in public health services to tackle health inequalities. The report looked at 25 health indicators, including asthma, diabetes and epilepsy, as well as obesity, breastfeeding and mortality, to provide a snapshot of children’s health and wellbeing. It says there had been huge improvements in child health in the UK in the past 100 years, but since the mid-1990s “there has been a slowing of progress”. This has left the UK falling behind other European nations in a number of league For example, in 2014 the UK had a higher infant mortality rate (of 3.9 per 1,000 live births) than nearly all comparable Western European countries. Infant mortality ranges from 3.6 in Scotland to 3.9 in England and Wales, and 4.8 in Northern Ireland.  Rates of smoking during pregnancy – an important factor in the health of babies – are higher in the UK than in many European countries, at 11.4% in England and nearly 15% in Scotland. Smoking during pregnancy was highest in deprived populations and in mothers under 20, the report found. In 2010 a ground-breaking report for the government in England by Sir Michael Marmot set out the social factors governing health and pointed to the role of a child’s early years in determining life chances. Now, leading child health experts are saying that little progress has been made since then and that health inequality is still blighting the lives of young people.  The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health is arguing that what it calls the wide gap between rich and poor is damaging infant health around the UK.

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