New report on state of child health reveals UK child health outcomes remain some of the worst in Western Europe

Date: 28th June 2017
Category: Disability, Basic Health and Welfare

A new report on child health has found that child health outcomes in the UK are among some of the worst in Western Europe, particularly in area such as infant mortality.

The report, entitled 'State of Child Health report 2017', was released by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health. It outlines the current state of child health in the UK in a range of indicators such as mortality, obesity, alcohol and drug use, and child poverty.

Key issues that were outlined in the report include high rates of smoking during pregnancy, very low breastfeeding rates with minimal improvement made since data recoding began, high obesity rates, and increased use of drugs and alcohol by children. The authors in particular highlighted the link between deprivation and poor health outcomes and emphasised that reducing rates of child poverty in the UK is key to improving child health outcomes.

As well as providing UK-wide recommendations, recommendations have been given for each of the four nations. The Scotland report praises the improvements that have been made in health indicators for children but states that the rate of improvement is lower than it should be. It also highlights the opportunity that the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 provides in ensuring children and young people are put at the heart of health, social care and education, which will undoubtedly lead to improved health outcomes.

The twelve Scotland-specific recommendations that the RCPCH make are:

  • Publish and implement the Child and Adolescent Health and Wellbeing Strategy
  • Reduce the number of child deaths
  • Develop integrated health and care statistics
  • Develop research capacity to drive improvements in child health
  • Reduce child poverty and inequality
  • Maximise women's health before, during and after pregnancy
  • Introduce statutory sex and relationships education in all schools
  • Strengthen tobacco control
  • Tackle childhood obesity effectively
  • Maximise mental health and wellbeing throughout childhood
  • Tailor the health system to meet the needs of children, young people, their parents and carers
  • Implement guidance and standards