Child health

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Mortality rates

Infant mortality rates (deaths under one year old) have decreased from 63.1 per 1,000 live births in 1930 to 4.5 per 1,000 in 2010, the lowest on record. Neonatal mortality rates (deaths under 28 days old) have also fallen from 31.5 per 1,000 live births in 1930 to 3.1 per 1,000 in 2010 (1). However, not all groups in society have benefited equally from this improvement.

The effect of childhood vaccinations

Population-based vaccination programmes have greatly reduced the burden of infectious diseases. In the UK, children at two years of age should receive doses of  vaccination against diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio and Haemophilus influenzae type B (2). The percentage of those who complete these routine vaccinations ranged from 85.3 per cent to 99.2 per cent across primary care trusts in England in 2009/10. A triple vaccine was produced for mumps, measles and rubella (MMR), but after some adverse publicity, take-up ranged from 73 per cent to 96.7 per cent (3). These variable rates have triggered recent outbreaks of measles and whooping cough (4).

Trends in learning disabilities

By 2030 it is estimated that the number of younger adults with learning disabilities (aged 18-64) may rise by 32.2 per cent (5); mortality among people with learning disabilities and children with severe and complex needs has reduced in recent years (6).

Next page: Non-communicable disease


  1. Sweet D (2011). Report. Social Trends 41 – Health. Office for National Statistics
  2. Department of Health (2010). Report. Routine childhood immunisation from November 2010
  3. Rightcare (2012). Report. NHS Atlas of variation in health care for children and young people
  4. Health Protection Agency (2012). Press release. HPA reports continued increase in whooping cough cases
  5. Snell T, Wittenberg R, Fernandez J-L, Malley J, Comas-Herrera A, King D (2011). Report. Projections of Demand for Social Care and Disability Benefits for Younger Adults in England. Report of Research Conducted for the Commission on Funding of Care and Support. PSSRU Discussion paper 2800/3
  6. Emerson and Hatton (2008). Report. Estimating future need for adult social care services for people with learning disabilities in England