Patterns of child death in England and Wales

Lancet. 2014 Sep 6;384(9946):904-14. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(13)61090-9.


In the past century, child mortality has fallen to very low rates in all developed countries. However, rates between and within countries vary widely, and factors can be identified that could be modified to reduce the risk of future deaths. An understanding of the nature and patterns of child death and of the factors contributing to child deaths is essential to drive preventive initiatives. We discuss the epidemiology of child deaths in England and Wales. We use available data, particularly that of death registration and other available datasets, and published literature to emphasise issues relevant to reduction of child deaths in developed countries. We examine the different patterns of mortality at different ages in five broad categories of death: perinatal causes, congenital abnormalities, acquired natural causes, external causes, and unexplained deaths. For each category, we explore what is known about the main causes of death and some of the contributory factors. We then explain how this knowledge might be used to help to drive prevention initiatives.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Accidents, Traffic / statistics & numerical data
  • Adolescent
  • Age Distribution
  • Cause of Death / trends*
  • Child
  • Child Abuse / mortality
  • Child Mortality / trends*
  • Child, Preschool
  • England / epidemiology
  • Homicide / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant Mortality / trends*
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature / physiology
  • Sex Distribution
  • Suicide / statistics & numerical data
  • Violence / statistics & numerical data
  • Wales / epidemiology