United Kingdom

Infant deaths

Graphs on this page:

Supporting information:

Key points

  • Infant death rates among both those from manual backgrounds and those from non-manual backgrounds fallen by around a fifth over the last decade.  As a result, infant deaths are still 35% more common among those from manual backgrounds than among those from non-manual backgrounds.
  • The rate of infant deaths in the West Midlands is one-and-a-half times that in the South East.
  • See the equivalent analysis for Scotland.

Why this indicator was originally chosen

This indicator is the proportion of children who die in their first year of life, with the proportions shown separately by social class.  Infant mortality has traditionally been used as a major indicator of child health and, while infant mortality rates dropped sharply in the 1970s and 1980s, the rate of progress since then has been much slower.

Definitions and data sources

The first graph shows the annual number of infant deaths per 1,000 live births, with the data shown separately according to the social class of the father.  Infant deaths are deaths which occur at ages under one year.  The social class classifications are those recently introduced which range from 1 (higher managerial and professional) to 8 (never worked and long-term unemployed).

The data source for the first graph is ONS child mortality statistics (from 2008 onwards) and DH3 childhood, infant and perinatal mortality statistics (prior to 2008).  The data relates to England and Wales and is based on a 10% sample of live births.  The data is based on year of occurrence.  Cases where the social class of the father is unknown (including all births where the registration is solely in the name of the mother) have been excluded from the analysis.

The second graph shows how the number of infant deaths per thousand live births varies by region.

The data sources for the second graph are ONS vital statistics (for England and Wales), General Registrar Office (for Scotland) and NISRA vital statistics (for Northern Ireland).  To improve its statistical reliability, the data is the average for the latest three years.

Overall adequacy of the indicator: medium.  The data itself is large and reputable, but classification by the social class of the father may be problematic since those where no details are known about the father are not included at all.

External links

Relevant 2007 Public Service Agreements

None directly relevant.

The numbers

Graph 1

Number of infant deaths per 1,000 live births
Year Social class 1-4 Social class 5-8
1994 4.7 6.7
1995 4.9 6.8
1996 4.7 6.8
1997 4.8 6.4
1998 4.5 5.9
1999 4.3 6.5
2000 4.1 6.2
2001 4.1 6.0
2002 3.9 5.9
2003 3.8 6.1
2004 3.7 5.7
20053.8 5.4
20063.6 5.7
20073.5 5.2
20083.4 4.9
20093.6 4.8

Graph 2

East 4.2
East Midlands 5.1
London 4.4
North East 4.2
North West 5.0
Northern Ireland 4.9
Scotland 4.3
South East 3.9
South West 4.1
Wales 4.7
West Midlands 6.1
Yorkshire and The Humber 5.5