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Mortality rate for children under five in the UK almost double that in Sweden

The death rate in preschool children in the UK is almost twice as high as in Sweden, according to latest study results.

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Sweden has one of the lowest child mortality rates in Europe. To see how the UK compares, University of Nottingham researchers used data from 2006-2008 on causes of death in under fives, from the UK Office for National Statistics and the Swedish National Board of Health and Welfare.

The total number of live births during this period was 2,295,964 in the UK and 315,884 in Sweden. The researchers found that the death rate among the under fives in the UK was almost double that in Sweden – 614 in 100,000 in the UK compared with 328 in 100,000 in Sweden.

The most common causes of death in the UK were premature birth, congenital abnormalities and infections. The mortality rates for these conditions in Sweden were far lower, the researchers said, with the death rate from premature birth 13 times higher in the UK than in Sweden. The UK also had significantly higher mortality rates than Sweden for treatable infections, such as pneumonia, meningitis and septicaemia.

The researchers said that the study results ‘raise important questions about the organisation and delivery of services for young children in the UK’.

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