Many UK Child Deaths 'Preventable'

One-Fifth Of Childhood Deaths In The UK Could Potentially Be Prevented

05.09.2014

Dave Grimshaw, Press Officer | 0114 274 4397
Many childhood deaths in the UK could be prevented if improvements are made with regard to mental health support, according to a series of new medical studies.

Researchers from the University of Warwick have carried out an investigation into childhood mortality rates in a number of high-income countries, finding that in the UK, around 5,000 under-18s die each year.

However, they believe around one-fifth of these deaths could be prevented if significant improvements to certain areas of care are introduced.

The results also showed 15 to 17-year-olds are the age group where the highest number of deaths needlessly occur, as many of these relate to accidents, abuse, neglect and suicide, suggesting mental healthcare improvements could help to lower these figures.

In light of this, leading figures in the medical world are calling for new measures to be introduced to provide a greater amount of support to vulnerable young people to help to prevent such high statistics from continuing to be recorded in the future.

It is not just medical professionals that are being urged to implement this, but also the government and even education bodies.

The BBC quotes president of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health Dr Hilary Cass to have said: "It means equipping all professionals with the knowledge and skills to identify mental health difficulties early, better access to mental health support for children and young people and making sure that Ofsted's inspection framework for early years settings, schools and colleges includes consideration of the extent to which these settings promote children and young people's social and emotional wellbeing."

It was found that care improvements do appear to have been made in some areas regarding childhood deaths though, as figures relating to the mortality of under-18s over the past 100 years show significant decreases.

In the past 20 years alone, infant mortality rates (those relating to children aged one and under) have fallen from 7.88 per 1,000 live births in 1990, to 4.36 in 2011.

Expert Opinion
The death of a child is a devastating and heart-breaking loss for their parents and it is troubling to hear that many childhood fatalities occur due to the lack of help and support available for young people suffering with mental health issues in the UK. It is vital mental health services for children are improved and that steps are taken to provide guidance and education to friends and family, who may not fully understand the mental health problems their loved ones are suffering from.

“All too often we see the consequences suffered by those who feel there is not enough help and support available for them within mental health services. We would welcome improved training to allow medical professionals to identify mental health difficulties early, increased resource in dedicated mental health units for young people, as well as better access to support for children within schools and colleges, to ensure the number of childhood deaths related to mental health issues are reduced.”
Mandy Luckman, Partner