UK falls in European child mortality rankings

By agency reporter
October 17, 2017

The UK has dropped several ranks in the European Union rankings of child mortality since 1990, recent analysis of World Health Organisation and Office for National Statistics data has found.

The drop in rankings occurred in the two UN Sustainable Development Goal indicators for child mortality – which cover neonatal mortality, and under-five mortality. The goal is that by 2030, all countries should reduce neonatal mortality to at least as low as 12 per 1,000 live births, and under-five mortality to at least as low as 25 per 1,000 live births.

The data for both indicators show that although the UK met the global target some 40 years ago, the rate of improvement has slowed compared with other EU countries, which are making faster progress. 

The neonatal mortality rate indicates the probability of dying in the first 28 days of life. In 1990, the UK was seventh in the European Union with a neonatal mortality rate of 4.5 deaths per 1,000 live births. Germany, Sweden, France, Finland, Luxembourg and Denmark were ahead of the UK with lower neonatal mortality rates. The worst performing countries were Romania, Hungary and Estonia, which had neonatal mortality rates of 13.5, 13.6 and 13.8 respectively.

Yet by 2015, Estonia had managed to overtake the UK, coming in at fifth place with a rate of 1.5, while the UK was pushed back to 19th with a slightly higher rate of 2.7. Other countries with a similar neonatal mortality rate to the UK include Croatia (2.6) , Lithuania and Denmark (both at 2.5), and Spain (2.8).

Out of all 28 European Union countries, the UK made less progress in these 25 years than all of them, apart from Germany and France.

The under-five mortality rate is the probability of dying between birth and five years of age per 1,000 live births. In 1990, the UK was ninth out of all European Union countries, with an under-five mortality rate of 9.3. Other countries ahead of the UK included Finland, Sweden and the Netherlands. The countries with the highest rates were Romania (37.7), Bulgaria (22.1) and Latvia (20.4).

As of 2015, the UK is 20th with a rate of 4.5. In this time, Estonia had again risen in the rankings compared with the UK, reducing its under-five mortality rate from 20.2 to 2.9. It also outpaced the Netherlands and Sweden, which in 2015 had rates of 3.8 and 3.0 respectively.

Countries with a similar under-five mortality rate to the UK in 2015 include Greece (4.6) and France and Croatia, which (both 4.3).

Out of all 28 European Union countries, the UK made less progress in under-five mortality than all other countries, apart from Malta.

Full ONS statistics can be downloaded here

Office for National Statistics


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