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England falling behind other European countries in efforts to improve child health

The Child health in 2030 in England: comparisons with other wealthy countries report, published [15 October] by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH), compared England with European and other western countries known as the EU15+.

Researchers used long-term historical data to project outcomes for children and young people’s health in 2030.

The report revealed that even if infant mortality begins to decline again at its previous rate, infant mortality rates could be 80% higher than the average across the EU15+ in 2030. If mortality continues the current ‘stall’ then it will be 140% higher in 2030.

“Danger on the horizon”

Professor Russell Viner, report author and President of the RCPCH, said: “This report shows that England currently has poorer health outcomes than the average across the EU15+ in most areas studied and the rate of improvement for many outcomes is lower than the EU15+.

“This means that unless current trends improve, England is likely to fall further behind countries of similar wealth over the next decade, making it harder to give children the best start in life, receive the care they need and remain healthy into productive, happy adult lives.

“This report clearly identifies the danger on the horizon – but trends shown here are not inevitable. Each of them could be turned around if key actions are undertaken,”he said.

Poverty an area of concern

Children and young people working with the RCPCH identified poverty as a major area of concern, particularly with regards to its impact on mental health and nutrition.

Professor Viner said: “Child poverty is predicted to increase over the next decade, which, if true, may make our predictions underestimates. Children living in poverty are more likely to be obese, have mental health issues and die early.”