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The real scandal behind Britain’s falling life expectancy

5 43 0
24.06.2019

Given the frenzied speculation about who will be the next leader of the Conservative party and thus prime minister, it was understandable that other news would get far less attention. Last week it was reported that the infant mortality rate (IMR) in England and Wales had worsened, for the third year in a row.

The report from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), covering 2017, said that “the infant mortality rate increased to 3.9 deaths per 1,000 live births compared with 3.8 in 2016”. In 2014, it was 3.6 deaths per 1,000. The situation had been improving steadily until 2014, when it went into reverse. This should not be happening, especially in one of the largest economies in the world. Alarmingly, when declines such as this have occurred elsewhere, for example in the Soviet Union in the 1980s, it has been an early marker of severe problems in society. But while these figures are sufficiently concerning in their own right, they are national averages and the situation is even worse in some places. In the most deprived areas of England, babies were more than twice as likely to die within the first year of life (5.2 deaths per 1,000 live births) than those in the least deprived areas (2.7 deaths per 1,000 live births). Equally concerning, the UK now lags well behind many........

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