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Child mortality from trauma and sudden death rising in England, study shows

Child mortality from trauma and sudden unexpected death increased last year, according to figures highlighting the stark impact of poverty on child health.

The analysis, which tracked all child deaths in England between 2019 and 2022, found overall mortality dipped during the pandemic due to a decrease in infectious illnesses, but that numbers of deaths have since returned to pre-pandemic levels. This included a 32% increase in trauma deaths and a 13% rise in sudden unexpected death in infancy or childhood (Sudic) last year compared with pre-pandemic rates.

Prof Karen Luyt, the programme lead for the National Child Mortality Database, based at the University of Bristol, said the figures could be “the first mortality signal” from families struggling with the cost of living crisis.

“This is worrying and I think we’re likely to see things getting worse,” she said. “Certainly for childhood illness and mortality, we know there’s a strong social gradient and we know that more families are now living in poverty.”

Sudic deaths are defined as being unexplained and unexpected at the point death is registered, but may be subsequently found to be due to cardiac arrest after infection or an asthma attack, for instance. It is a broader category than sudden infant death syndrome (Sids), where the cause of death often remains a mystery even after postmortem examination.

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Source: The Guardian, 16 January 2023


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