The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) has today launched a new report that finds a “lack of strategic national focus and persistence of a wide gap between rich and poor in the UK…damaging the health of the nation’s infants, children and young people.”

You can view the full State of Child Health report on the RCPCH’s website.

The report brings together data lists of 25 measures of the health of UK children; ranging from specific conditions such as asthma, diabetes and epilepsy, risk factors for poor health such as obesity and a low rate of breastfeeding, to child deaths.

Nearly one in five children in the UK is living in poverty and those from the most deprived backgrounds experience worse health compared with the most affluent.

The UK ranks 15 out of 19 Western European countries on infant mortality, and has one of the highest rates for children and young people mortality in Western Europe. There is a strong association between deprivation and infant mortality.

In the report, child health experts make a number of calls on the Government. The recommendations include:

  • Introducing a national child health and wellbeing strategy
  • Reversing cuts to public health
  • And tightening controls over smoking, the sale of alcohol and advertising of foods high in fat, salt and sugar.

Professor Neena Modi, President of the RCPCH said:

“Children living in the most deprived areas are much more likely to be in poor health, be overweight or obese, suffer from asthma, have poorly managed diabetes, experience mental health problems, and die early. Poor health in infancy, childhood, and young adult life will ultimately mean poor adult health, and this in turn will mean a blighted life and poor economic productivity. The UK is one of the richest countries in the world; we can and must do better, for the sake for each individual, and that of the nation as a whole.”