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Children’s public health outcomes in London worse than England average

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Children's public health services in London compar Children's public health services in London compare unfavourably with the rest of England

Children and young people living in London have significantly worse outcomes for public health issues compared with the rest of the country, analysis by Public Health England has found.

The report compared the public health outcomes of children in the capital with those in four other cities: Manchester, Birmingham, Bristol, and Leeds as well as the averages for England. It used 10 indicators on issues such as childhood obesity, vaccination uptake, and infant mortality. The report found that in six of these categories, outcomes were significantly worse than the average in England, while several were worse than in the other four cities examined.

‘Although there have been improvements for children living in London, for example, teenage pregnancy rates have fallen by half over the past decade, their health and wellbeing remains a concern,’ the report’s authors commented. ‘There are substantial variations in outcomes in London compared to England and four major cities in England.’

The report also examined the reasons behind the variations in public health across the cities and England. It found that just under a quarter of children in London live in poverty, which is known to negatively impact children’s health. This figure is higher than in Leeds, Bristol and the England averagel, but lower than Birmingham and Manchester.

It also found that parental determinants for children are better in London than the other cities. Women living in London are less likely to smoke at time of birth compared with England and all four cities. They are also more likely to initiate breastfeeding and continue at six to eight weeks than the England average. Of the four cities, only Bristol had a breastfeeding rate higher than the England average, although this was still significantly worse than London.

The report indicates that rather than environmental factors, London’s lower outcomes for children are due to the poor provision of services. It used six quality indicators to measure the services available to children in the capital. In all six indicators, London performed worse than the rest of England.

‘For London, some indicators match or are better than the England average, while other indicators are poorer than England and other major cities in England,’ the authors added. ‘The causes of this variation needs to be explored further, whether due to demographic or city characteristics or differences relating to policy and health service factors.’

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