RCPCH responds to Infection related deaths of children and young people in England report

The report is compiled of data from the National Child Mortality Database (NCMD) to investigate infection related deaths in children and young people.
Document icon on blue background

The reports key findings include:

  • 15% of all child deaths between April 2019 and March 2022 were infection related. Within these deaths:
    • 90% of the children had an underlying health condition
    • A baby or child not being immunised, or there being a delay in immunisations, was a contributory factor in 3% of child death reviews
    • 36% of child death reviews recorded issues related to service provision as a contributory factor
    • Communication issues within or between agencies were recorded in 11% of child death reviews
  • The risk of death varied:
    • By the ethnicity of the child, with children from an Asian/Asian British or black/black British ethnic background at higher risk
    • With children living in urban areas having a higher risk of dying from infection than those in rural areas. 
  • A seasonal variation in infectious deaths with a clear peak in winter months.

RCPCH President, Dr Camilla Kingdon, said:

In an age of antibiotics and immunisations, this report is a sober reminder that 15% of all child deaths are down to infection. It is also chilling to consider that children living in deprived neighbourhoods are twice as likely to die of infection than of those living in the least deprived neighbourhoods, based on this 2023 data.

Once again, lower-income children are being dealt the worst hand. As the gap between rich and poor in this country continues to grow, we are seeing a range of manifestations of health inequalities appearing in childhood.

While it makes for an upsetting read, we welcome the publication of this report and its recommendations on the importance of encouraging parents to take up vaccination offers, and greater joined up processes between agencies of call and recall processes for children who have not received routine scheduled vaccinations.

The newly published vaccine strategy from NHS England has come at a timely point. We are once again urging for a fast implementation of its proposals to protect more children and young people from infection related deaths.