Child mortality

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Every year it is estimated that 1,951 additional children – around 5 a day – die in the UK compared to Europe’s best performing country for child mortality, Sweden. The College is committed to reducing childhood mortality in the UK, ensuring all infants, children, young people, and their families are resourced and supported to survive and thrive.

By working with child health experts to review existing evidence and through working in partnership with the National Children’s Bureau we have developed key policy recommendations to tackle premature mortality.

On this page:

Why Children Die Part A - the report

Why Children Die: death in infants, children and young people in the UK, has been written by independent experts - Ingrid Wolfe, Alison Macfarlane, Angela Donkin, Michael Marmot and Russell Viner. The report reviews existing UK evidence on child mortality, finding that:

  • In 2012 over 3,000 babies died before age one and over 2,000 children and young people died between the ages of one and nineteen
  • Over half of deaths in childhood occur during the first year of a child’s life, and are strongly influenced by pre-term delivery and low birth weight; with risk factors including maternal age, smoking and disadvantaged circumstances
  • Suicide remains a leading cause of death in young people in the UK, and the number of deaths due to intentional injuries and self-harm have not declined in 30 years
  • After the age of one, injury is the most frequent cause of death; over three quarters of deaths due to injury in the age bracket of 10-18 year olds are related to traffic incidents.

Full report (PDF, 1.5MB)

Why Children Die Part B - a policy response for England

In response to the report, the College in partnership with the National Children’s Bureau developed a suite of recommendations to tackle child mortality in England. These recommendations cut across the three domains of government and civil society; health systems and organisations; and health care and public health.

RCPCH / NCB policy response (PDF, 275KB)

Press release (PDF, 160KB)

Why Children Die Part C - a policy response for Wales

In response to the report, RCPCH Wales developed Part C through work with Welsh paediatricians and Public Health Wales’ Child Death Review programme. This contains recommendations across the three domains of government and civil society; health systems and organisations; and healthcare and public health.

RCPCH Wales policy response (English) (PDF 119KB, 12 pages)

RCPCH Wales policy response (Welsh) (PDF 178KB, 13 pages)

Why Children Die Part D - a policy response for Scotland

In response to the report, the RCPCH have developed a suite of recommendations for Scotland. This contains recommendations across the three domains of government and civil society; health systems and organisations; and healthcare and public health.

RCPCH Scotland Policy response  (PDF, 225KB, 16 pages)

Why Children Die Part E - a policy response for Northern Ireland

The College has worked in partnership with the National Children’s Bureau Northern Ireland to develop a suite of recommendations to tackle child mortality in Northern Ireland. These recommendations have been informed by an Advisory Panel and cut across the domains of ‘health systems and organisations’ and ‘health care and public health’.

RCPCH Northern Ireland Policy response (PDF, 360KB, 20 pages)

Campaigning

A College campaign aims to identify ways to reduce preventable child mortality across the UK, using the data from the Why Children Die reports.

Find out more

Infographics

Childhood death in the UK

Why Children Die infographic - breakdown of 5911 deaths

Leading causes of death in children

Why Children Die infographic - leading causes of death in children

Number of deaths from road traffic accidents

Why Children Die infographic - number deaths from road traffic accidents

Number of deaths from assault and abuse

Why Children infographic - number deaths from assault and abuse