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Cause-specific child and adolescent mortality in the UK and EU15+ countries
  1. Joseph Lloyd Ward1,
  2. Ingrid Wolfe2,
  3. Russell M Viner1
  1. 1Population, Policy and Practice Research and Teaching Department, UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health, London, UK
  2. 2Department of Women and Children’s Health, King's College London, London, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Joseph Lloyd Ward, University College London Institute of Child Health, London, London, UK; joseph.ward{at}


Objective To compare cause-specific UK mortality in children and young people (CYP) with EU15+ countries (European Union countries pre-2004, Australia, Canada and Norway).

Design Mortality estimates were coded from the WHO World Mortality Database. Causes of death were mapped using the Global Burden of Disease mortality hierarchy to 22 cause groups. We compared UK mortality by cause, age group and sex with EU15+ countries in 2015 (or latest available) using Poisson regression models. We then ranked the UK compared with the EU15+ for each cause.

Setting The UK and EU15+ countries.

Participants CYP aged 1–19.

Main outcome measure Mortality rate per 100 000 and number of deaths.

Results UK mortality in 2015 was significantly higher than the EU15+ for common infections (both sexes aged 1–9, boys aged 10–14 and girls aged 15–19); chronic respiratory conditions (both sexes aged 5–14); and digestive, neurological and diabetes/urological/blood/endocrine conditions (girls aged 15–19). UK mortality was significantly lower for transport injuries (boys aged 15–19). The UK had the worst to third worst mortality rank for common infections in both sexes and all age groups, and in five out of eight non-communicable disease (NCD) causes in both sexes in at least one age group. UK mortality rank for injuries in 2015 was in the top half of countries for most causes.

Conclusions UK CYP mortality is higher than a group of comparable countries for common infections and multiple NCD causes. Excess UK CYP mortality may be amenable to health system strengthening.

  • mortality
  • EU15+
  • adolescent health

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  • Contributors All authors conceptualised the paper. JLW and RMV planned the analyses, and JLW downloaded the data and undertook the analysis. All authors contributed to interpretation of the results. JLW led the writing of the paper with contributions from RMV and IW.

  • Funding JLW is funded by the Medical Research Council. RMV and IW received no specific funding for this analysis.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Ethics approval Ethical approval was not required for this analysis of publicly available data.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data availability statement Data are publicly available from the WHO World Mortality Database (

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