International comparisons of health and wellbeing in early childhood

Nuffield Trust
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This report presents data on health and wellbeing for early childhood in the UK and 14 comparable countries, recognising the particular influence that a child’s development in this period can have on his or her future health and quality of life. The report considers the benefits and challenges of comparing child health indicators between countries, to inform local and national policy and practice that improves the health of children and families in this country. The analysis focuses on: life expectancy; size of the early childhood population; low birth weight; breastfeeding; obesity; vaccination and immunisation; social determinants of health (poverty, education and employment); stillbirths and deaths in early childhood. The findings in this report show that the UK is doing well in many areas relating to the health of young children. By and large, trends over the past decade show improvements in the majority of indicators, and broadly support the argument that this decade’s young children in the UK enjoy better health than the last. However, in none of these fields is there a convincing argument that the UK is among the best performing of any comparable country. Moreover, for certain indicators, such as the percentage of children who are overweight or obese, or breastfeeding, the UK lags far behind similarly developed countries. In others, notably in childhood mortality, where once the UK led the field, the current rate of improvement has slowed to the extent that the UK has now among the worst outcomes in comparable countries. The report concludes that the recent changes to the UK’s trajectory on life expectancy, premature deaths and immunisation should set alarm bells ringing for policymakers about the effects of cuts to public health and early years services. (Edited publisher abstract)

Subject terms:
health, wellbeing, life expectancy, obesity, immunisation, stillbirth, death, poverty, socioeconomic groups, babies;
Content type:
United Kingdom
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