Social Justice

Poverty is driving a spike in infant mortality across England

Researchers found a consistent and "unprecedented" rise in infant deaths across deprived areas between 2014-2017

The decline in infant mortality has been reversed in the poorest parts of England – which experts say is partly a result of soaring child poverty.

A study published in BMJ Open showed that between 2014-2017 there were an extra 24 infant deaths per 100,000 live births per year. This is a total of 572 more deaths than usual.

However the most well-off areas were “unaffected” by the rise in deaths.

Professor David Taylor-Robinson led the team of Liverpool, Leeds and Newcastle University researchers. He said around a third of the increase could be attributed to rising child poverty.

“The unprecedented rise in infant mortality disproportionately affected the poorest areas of the country,” he said.

The researcher described the findings as “really concerning”, and said it is time for the government to reverse the trend by improving the welfare system to protect children from poverty.

“We know that child poverty has a myriad of adverse impacts on other aspects of child health that will have repercussions for decades to come,” he added. “Policies that reduce poverty and social inequalities are likely to reduce the occurrence of infant mortality.”

It is unusual to see infant mortality rising in countries as wealthy as the UK – and it can be seen an early indicator of how health is changing in a society.

Helen Barnard, deputy director of policy & partnerships for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, said: “We cannot stand by while a child born in the wealthiest parts of our country can expect nearly two decades longer of healthy life than a child born in the most deprived parts. We need to see action to solve poverty.”

Support your local Big Issue vendor

If you can’t get to your local vendor every week, subscribing directly to them online is the best way to support your vendor. Your chosen vendor will receive 50% of the profit from each copy and the rest is invested back into our work to create opportunities for people affected by poverty.
Vendor martin Hawes

Recommended for you

View all
Premier League clubs step up gambling sponsorship on front of shirts ahead of ban: 'It's shameful'
A montage of Premier League shirts from Brentford, Everton, Southampton, Nottingham Forest, and Crystal Palace, over a pixellated backdrop of Wembley Stadium as Southampton FC returned to the Premier League
Exclusive

Premier League clubs step up gambling sponsorship on front of shirts ahead of ban: 'It's shameful'

Labour warned that crackdown on shoplifters risks 'criminalising' poverty: 'Some are out of options'
shoplifting
Shoplifting

Labour warned that crackdown on shoplifters risks 'criminalising' poverty: 'Some are out of options'

Summer holiday childcare costs surge to more than £1,000 per child: 'Stressed out to the max'
child drawing
Childcare

Summer holiday childcare costs surge to more than £1,000 per child: 'Stressed out to the max'

I was in a violent relationship. I wouldn't have got free without financial help
Person using ATM
Financial inclusion

I was in a violent relationship. I wouldn't have got free without financial help

Most Popular

Read All
Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits
Renters: A mortgage lender's window advertising buy-to-let products
1.

Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal
Pound coins on a piece of paper with disability living allowancve
2.

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over
next dwp cost of living payment 2023
3.

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know
4.

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know

Support our vendors with a subscription

For each subscription to the magazine, we’ll provide a vendor with a reusable water bottle, making it easier for them to access cold water on hot days.