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New report finds stark impact of newborn illness on mortality throughout childhood

Press release issued: 14 July 2022

New evidence has found a link between poor health as a newborn and mortality up to the age of ten. The new report from England’s National Child Mortality Database (NCMD), led by the University of Bristol, shows of the 4,829 children aged ten and under who died in England between 2019 and 2021, 72 per cent were found to have required additional care in the neonatal period.

The report shows the dramatic impact of perinatal events – being born prematurely, or suffering an injury or infection shortly after birth – on mortality in the first year of life, where 83 per cent of deaths were linked to additional care requirements after birth. But more surprisingly, it shows for the first time how that risk persists throughout childhood; although they only make up 15 per cent of the population, these children account for 38 per cent of deaths aged 1 to 4 years, and 27 per cent of deaths aged five to nine years. 

The publication also examines the factors that could be changed to improve the situation, and presents recommendations for policymakers and health officials. Smoking during pregnancy, lack of involvement from appropriate services and maternal obesity were the three most prominent modifiable factors identified by child death review, and the report authors have called for current interventions to be strengthened and new measures to be deployed to tackle these issues.

The contribution of newborn health to child mortality across England’ by Dr David Odd et al. published online.

Read the full University of Bristol news item

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