A new study, published in BMJ Open, links a rise in infant mortality in England to child poverty.
The study analysed trends in infant (aged,
The data revealed that the “sustained and unprecedented rise” in infant mortality in England from 2014 to 2017 was not experienced evenly across the population.
In the most deprived local authorities, the previously declining trend in infant mortality reversed and mortality rose, leading to an additional 24 (95% CI, 6-42) infant deaths per 100,000 live births per year, relative to the previous trend. There was no significant change from the pre-existing trend in the most affluent local authorities. As a result, inequalities in infant mortality increased, with the gap between the most and the least deprived local authority areas widening by 52 (95% CI, 36-68) deaths per 100,000 births.
Overall from 2014 to 2017, there were a total of 572 (95% CI, 200-944) excess infant deaths compared with what would have been expected based on historical trends. The authors estimated that each 1 per cent increase in child poverty was significantly associated with an extra 5.8 (95% CI, 2.4-9.2) infant deaths per 100,000 live births.
The findings suggest that about a third of the increases in infant mortality between 2014 and 2017 can be attributed to rising child poverty (172 [95% CI, 74-266] deaths).
Lead author, Professor David Taylor-Robinson from the University of Liverpool, said: "These findings are really concerning given that child poverty is rising. It is time for the government to reverse this trend establishing a welfare system that protects children from poverty."