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Child deaths down but injuries still a problem

Wednesday October 2nd, 2013

Most child deaths in Britain are linked to chronic conditions - although some of these are the result of preventable accidents, according to a new study.

And women who have children over the age of 30 are less likely to lose a child than younger mothers, researchers found.

The finding is surprising because older mothers face some increased risks.

The study, backed by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, found that:

* two thirds of children who die suffer from a chronic condition;

* nearly half of deaths are linked to injuries and accidents;

* the rate of child deaths has halved in the last three decades;

* there has been no change in the number of deaths from intentional injury, including self-harm and assault.

Researcher Professor Ruth Gilbert said: “Young maternal age at birth is becoming a marker of social disadvantage as women who have been through higher education and those with career prospects are more likely to postpone pregnancy until their 30s.

"The increased risk of death for children of mothers under 30 persisted up to 9 years of age but the biggest difference in deaths was for infants aged between one month and one year.

"Universal policies are needed to address these disparities. Targeting support only at first-time teenage mums misses most of the problem.”

College president Dr Hilary Cass said the large number of children dying from long-term conditions highlighted the need for good end of life care for terminally ill children.

She said: “Injuries remain the biggest cause of child deaths but are declining, so we need to continue to build upon public policy interventions such as traffic calming. The lack of decline in intentional injuries calls for a concerted focus on reducing violence and self-harm in older children."

* Hospital accident statistics published yesterday show that teenage girls are most likely to be treated for self-harm.

Some 420 teenage girls were treated for assault while 13,400 were treated for intentional self harm.

Some 4,000 teenaged boys were treated for self-harm compared with 2,400 treated as victims of assault.

* The most common cause of accidents among children aged five to nine was a fall involving play-ground equipment, according to the Health and Social Care Information Centre figures.

Tags: A&E | Child Health | Childbirth and Pregnancy | UK News | Women’s Health & Gynaecology

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