JAMA Network Open first published this paper, based on unique NCMD data, which looks at the outcomes of children with different ethnicities.

Twelve percent of infant deaths in England could be avoided if all infants in England had the same risk of death as White infants, a new study from the NCMD shows.  Such a change, which equates to more than 200 deaths per year, would bring England – which currently has one of the highest infant mortality rates in Europe – in line with other EU nations.

The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Network Open, draws on the NCMD’s unique data to show that infants of non-White ethnicities are at greater risk than their White counterparts, and this was not explained by where they lived in England, or how wealthy their families are. Almost half of the additional risk for non-White infants was found to be due to preterm birth, which is much more common in families of Asian or Black ethnicity.

Karen Luyt, NCMD Director and Professor of Neonatal Medicine at the University of Bristol, said: “England has one of the highest infant mortality rates in Europe, and there is an urgent need to identify and tackle the factors that are holding us back.

“This latest analysis of our unique dataset highlights specific groups at greater risk, and gives a clear indication of where efforts might be focused to drive down infant mortality in the future.”

The publication follows the NCMD’s full data release for 2023, which found that since 2021 death rates for children of Black or Asian backgrounds have increased while those for White children remained relatively stable.