RCPCH responds to latest child and infant mortality data in England and Wales

Recent ONS data shows the devastating impacts of poverty and deprivation on children's life chances.
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Data from England and Wales in 2022 showed:

  • 2,349 infant deaths (aged under 1 year) and 1,019 child deaths (aged 1 to 15 years) occurred; these figures are higher than in 2021 (2,323 and 852, respectively).
  • There were 3.9 infant deaths per 1,000 live births, and 10 child deaths per 100,000 population; higher than in 2021 (3.7 and 8, respectively).
  • The highest rates of infant mortality were among infants of Black ethnicity, with a birthweight under 2,500 grammes, or with a mother aged under 20 years.
  • The main cause of death among children aged 28 days to 15 years continued to be congenital malformations, deformations and chromosomal abnormalities.
  • The mortality rate for infants living in the 10% most deprived areas in England was almost three times higher than for infants living in the 10% least deprived areas; a wider difference than seen during any of the previous 12 years.

In response to the data, RCPCH Officer for Health Improvement, Dr Helen Stewart, said:

It is extremely worrying that infant mortality rates have increased again. 

Inequalities are a major factor in causing infant deaths, and the risk of a baby dying dramatically increases with the level of maternal deprivation. We now find ourselves in a position where the mortality rate for infants living in the most deprived areas in England was almost 3 times higher than in the least deprived. This harrowing data set confirms what paediatricians have been saying for many years now – poverty is very often a matter of life and death. 

We can, and we must turn these statistics around. Poverty is not an inevitability. The upcoming election couldn’t have come at more crucial moment for child health. We urge all political parties to make tackling child poverty a key manifesto commitment so every child, regardless of their background, can grow up to reach their full potential.  

See RCPCH’s 2024 general election manifesto that calls on political parties to support children’s health and wellbeing in a changing world.