Child health in crisis


Worsening health among under-fives in the UK must be urgently addressed warns The Academy of Medical Sciences. They have highlighted major health issues of concern, including infant deaths, obesity and tooth decay.

The report blames the pandemic and increased cost of living for what it claims to be a serious crisis in child health which has particularly impacted on those living in more deprived areas.

It points out that:

  • The UK is 30th out of 49 rich countries for infant mortality.
  • One in five children falls short of the expected level of development aged two.
  • One in five is overweight or obese by five.
  • Vaccination targets are being missed for diseases such as measles.
  • One in four is affected by tooth decay by five.
  • One in five women struggles with their mental health during or just after pregnancy.
  • Air pollution is linked to worsening asthma.
  • There is a rising demand for child mental health services.

Society is betraying children, claims the report, and the problems are limiting their future and damaging economic prosperity.

In response, a spokesperson for the government said: ‘We've taken significant action to improve children's health now and in the long term.’ This includes measures to reduce sugar in children's food and investing in mental health services and dentistry.

The report calls for a cross-government vision to be developed to tackle the problems, and investment in the child health workforce including health visitors. Report author Prof Helen Minnis said: ‘Every child has the right to a safe and healthy childhood. It is shameful that the UK is failing to provide this. The science is clear - we are betraying our children.’
Dr Mike McKean, of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, added that the report provided alarming evidence of a crisis in child health that demands urgent action.