A fifth of child deaths in England could be prevented, according to a study examining deaths between 2010 and 2011.
The study, published in the respected medial journal The Lancet, found the causes of these deaths included abuse, neglect, suicide and accidents.
The research series, which examined child deaths in high-income countries, also suggests health services in England do not always deliver optimal care for children. It found 1500 more children die every year in the UK than Sweden due to poor health service provision.
Links between inequality and child deaths were also shown in the review, with death rates in England and Wales tending to be higher in the Midlands and north England and lower in the south and east. The five high income countries with the worst child death rates, which includes England, are also those with the widest inequalities in income, the review found.
Leader of the three-part study, Dr Peter Sidebotham, said: “Although some contributing factors are relatively fixed, including a child’s age, sex, and genetics, many environmental, social and health service factors are amenable to interventions that could lessen risks and help prevent future deaths.”
He also said: “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 health-care 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 health-care delivery.”
The series looked at 4601 child deaths reviewed in England between 2010 and 2011, finding 800 were from preventable causes.
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