Child deaths at lowest level since records began

There were 2,226 deaths of babies and 789 deaths of children aged one to 15 in 2020, the Office for National Statistics said.

(Dominic Lipinski/PA)
(Dominic Lipinski/PA)

The number of babies and children in England and Wales who died in 2020 reached the lowest level in 40 years, figures show.

There were 2,226 deaths of babies and 789 deaths of children aged one to 15 in 2020, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.

Eleven involved coronavirus as the underlying cause, while two had Covid-19 mentioned on their death certificates, accounting for 1% of child deaths that year.

Congenital malformations, deformations and chromosomal abnormalities remained the leading cause of death among children aged 28 days to 15 years, followed by neoplasms.

The ONS said the 2020 figures are the lowest numbers of infant and child deaths since records began in 1980.

The child mortality rate for the latest year was 7.0 deaths per 100,000 population of the same age.

It has “steadily fallen” from a rate of 33.0 per 100,000 in 1981.

The mortality rate for babies under one in the latest year (the infant mortality rate) was 3.6 deaths per 1,000 live births, the figures show.

This has remained fairly stable since 2014, within an overall general decline over the past four decades.

This is likely to reflect general improvements in healthcare, and specifically in antenatal and neonatal care.

The infant mortality rate was highest in the West Midlands (5.3 deaths per 1,000 live births) and lowest in the East and South West (2.9 per 1,000)

The mortality rate for babies under 28 days (the neonatal mortality rate) was 2.7 deaths per 1,000 live births – which has remained stable since 2016.

Black babies had the highest neonatal and infant mortality rates.

The neonatal mortality rate for babies from a black Caribbean background was 4.9 deaths per 1,000 live births, compared with 2.1 per 1,000 for white British babies.

In 2020, the 10% most deprived areas in England had higher infant mortality rates than the 10% least deprived areas.

There were 3.8 stillbirths per 1,000 births in 2020, unchanged from the previous year.

The Government’s ambition is to halve the stillbirth rate by 2025 compared with 2010, to 2.6 per 1,000 births.

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