Poor boys and girls will die nearly a decade earlier
THE poorest boys and girls born in East Midlands will die nearly a decade earlier than the richest, and experts have warned that the gap is growing.
Latest figures from the Office for National Statistics reveal that boys born to the poorest 20% of families in our region will survive until the average age of 75.
Boys born to the richest 20% families, on the other hand, will live an extra seven years - until the age of 82.
The story is the similar for girls in our region, with the poorest living until the age of 80 and the richest likely to live until the age of 85.
Lifestyle differences likely contribute to the mortality gap between the rich and poor, with poorer people more likely to smoke and have higher levels of obesity.
A report from the Longevity Science Panel (LSP) earlier this year also found a widening gap between life expectancies of the rich and poor.
At the time, report author Dame Karen Dunnell said: “Dying earlier if you are poor is the most unfair outcome of all.
“We should all be concerned about the growing divergence in rich-poor life expectancy. To reduce the risk of further widening, we need better understand- ing of the precise causes, followed by co-ordinated policy initiatives across health, work, welfare, pension and housing to improve outcomes for all.”
The poorest boys born in the East Midlands will also spend 71% of their lives in “good” health, while for girls the rate is 66%.
The richest boys and girls, meanwhile, will both spend 81% of their lives in “good” health.
“Good” health is how individuals perceive their own health based on assessments of healthy ageing, fitness for work, and health and social care need.
Dr Ronny Cheung, of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said: “Not only are children born to the poorest families more likely to die than those born to the most affluent, but that gap is growing.
“Maternal health is critical to the health of babies and infants, and we know that the poorest women have poorer health, poorer nutritional status and more difficulty accessing health care.
“All of these factors affect the health of newborn babies and their risk of death.
“Poverty is also associated with poorer health literacy - the ability to understand your health and how to live more healthily, protecting children through health interventions such as immunisations, recognising illness and when to seek medical help.
“This means poorer families, despite their best intentions, need extra targeted support from health care, such as from health visitors.
“There is a clear moral argument to increase the level of targeted support for the poorest families – investing in health visitors and support services for women before, during and after childbirth especially among those most vulnerable groups.
“Government policy should once again focus on the elimination of child poverty as a priority, because it is the fundamental factor which underlies so many of the disparities in health across childhood.”