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'Increasing inequality for children in Northern Ireland’

15 June, 2017

'Increasing inequality for children in Northern Ireland’

The widening gap between rich and poor is risking the health of children in Northern Ireland, says a new report.

The news comes from the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health’s State of child health – Northern Ireland report, launched today (15 June).

It reveals that in Northern Ireland less than 28% of babies at six weeks old receive any breastmilk – the lowest level in the UK

It also states an estimated 23% of children live in poverty and 28% are overweight or obese.

The report  says smoking is the biggest cause of preventable illness and premature death, killing around 2300 people a year across the UK

Breedagh Hughes, RCM director for Northern Ireland, said: 'Good health starts before birth, indeed it starts before conception.  

‘Improving the health of our adults will improve the health of our children which will ultimately lead to a country of healthier adults. This will mean fewer illnesses, less suffering and in the long run will save the struggling health services money.
 
“There is rightly a focus in the report on breastfeeding. Northern Ireland has the worst breastfeeding rates in the UK. If we can improve rates of breastfeeding and increase the time mothers do this for, we can help to improve the health of both mother and baby.’
 
She added: ‘Reducing smoking generally but in pregnancy in particular is another area that could improve the health of babies. Smoking in pregnancy is particular is associated with increased rates of stillbirth for example.’
 
The report has been compiled by child health experts, with input from children and young people. 

It argues that without interventions to close the gap between rich and poor, and targeted policies to improve child health, Northern Ireland will continue to fail its children when it comes to their health.

Recommendations include the implementation of a child poverty strategy and a ‘child health in all policies’ approach.  

For more information, click here.

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