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Child mortality in England compared with Sweden: a birth cohort study
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Centre for Health Equity Studies (CHESS). Karolinska Institutet, Sweden.
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Number of Authors: 52018 (English)In: The Lancet, ISSN 0140-6736, E-ISSN 1474-547X, Vol. 391, no 10134, p. 2008-2018Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Background

Child mortality is almost twice as high in England compared with Sweden. We aimed to establish the extent to which adverse birth characteristics and socioeconomic factors explain this difference.

Methods

We developed nationally representative cohorts of singleton livebirths between Jan 1, 2003, and Dec 31, 2012, using the Hospital Episode Statistics in England, and the Swedish Medical Birth Register in Sweden, with longitudinal follow-up from linked hospital admissions and mortality records. We analysed mortality as the outcome, based on deaths from any cause at age 2-27 days, 28-364 days, and 1-4 years. We fitted Cox proportional hazard regression models to estimate the hazard ratios (HRs) for England compared with Sweden in all three age groups. The models were adjusted for birth characteristics (gestational age, birthweight, sex, and congenital anomalies), and for socioeconomic factors (maternal age and socioeconomic status).

Findings

The English cohort comprised 3932886 births and 11392 deaths and the Swedish cohort comprised 1013360 births and 1927 deaths. The unadjusted HRs for England compared with Sweden were 1.66 (95% Cl 1.53-1.81) at 2-27 days, 1.59 (1.47-1.71) at 28-364 days, and 1.27 (1.15-1.40) at 1-4 years. At 2-27 days, 77% of the excess risk of death in England was explained by birth characteristics and a further 3% by socioeconomic factors. At 28-364 days, 68% of the excess risk of death in England was explained by birth characteristics and a further 11% by socioeconomic factors. At 1-4 years, the adjusted HR did not indicate a significant difference between countries.

Interpretation

Excess child mortality in England compared with Sweden was largely explained by the unfavourable distribution of birth characteristics in England. Socioeconomic factors contributed to these differences through associations with adverse birth characteristics and increased mortality after 1 month of age. Policies to reduce child mortality in England could have most impact by reducing adverse birth characteristics through improving the health of women before and during pregnancy and reducing socioeconomic disadvantage.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2018. Vol. 391, no 10134, p. 2008-2018
National Category
Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Medicine Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-157738DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(18)30670-6ISI: 000432440300027PubMedID: 29731173OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-157738DiVA, id: diva2:1236654
Available from: 2018-08-03 Created: 2018-08-03 Last updated: 2018-08-03Bibliographically approved

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