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Child health crisis: calls for urgent action must not go unheeded

BMJ 2018; 360 doi: (Published 20 March 2018) Cite this as: BMJ 2018;360:k1270
  1. Jacqui Wise
  1. London

The data pointing to a reversal in the health of British children are mounting, reports Jacqui Wise

After years of progress the UK is stalling in areas such as infant mortality and immunisation levels and is lagging behind similar countries on mortality, breastfeeding, and the prevalence of obesity.

Several new reports detail the worrying state of the nation’s child health. Health professionals say that the latest figures are cause for alarm and are calling on the government to act urgently to develop a comprehensive child health strategy.

Rising infant mortality

Latest figures from the Office for National Statistics show that the number of babies dying in the first year of life is rising,1 a reversal of several decades of the NHS’s success in reducing infant mortality. In England and Wales the rate has increased to 3.8 deaths per 1000 live births, up from 3.7 in 2015. Neonatal death rates have also risen, from 2.6 per 1000 births in 2015 to 2.7 per 1000 in 2016.

Furthermore, the ONS figures show that the infant …

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