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Infant mortality rate in Northern Ireland is the worst in the UK, report finds

Northern Ireland's infant mortality rate remains the highest of any UK region although it has decreased, according to a new report.

Infant mortality is a measure of deaths of children under one year of age. The report from the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) shows the current rate is 4.2 deaths per 1,000 live births. In 2017, the figure stood at 4.8 deaths.

Infant mortality rates decreased in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales but remained unchanged in England, which has the second highest rate of 3.9 deaths per 1,000.

The report also highlights an increase in the suicide rate among young people aged 15–24 years.

Responding to the figures, Health Minister Robin Swann said the physical and mental health of children and young people was a "priority" for the for the Northern Ireland Executive.

"My department is already investing in a number of programmes and strategies which seek to address child health inequalities and improve the wellbeing of our children."

Dr Ray Nethercott, RCPCH officer for Ireland acknowledged the current healthcare crisis as well as concerns about waiting lists and standard of care but added that "children's health and wellbeing should not be seen as being in competition with adult services or health provision".

"Acting early to treat and prevent conditions, and reducing the impact of factors such as poverty, can really improve health outcomes. A healthier population of children and young people will reduce many of the pressures on adult services in the long term."

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Source: BBC News, 4 March 2020


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