Thursday, May 27, 1999 Published at 10:45 GMT 11:45 UK
Children of single mothers more at risk
Children born to single mothers are more at risk even at the age of three
Children under four are more likely to die if they are born to single mothers and women under 20, according to national statistics.
The figures are published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) in its quarterly health bulletin and cover England and Wales.
It is the first time that such data has been recorded for three year olds.
Previous research on infants has shown similar differences, which are mainly attributed to deprivation.
The researchers also found a higher risk for children born to mothers from the New Commonwealth countries, mainly Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, East Africa and the Caribbean.
The ONS bulletin, which contains a variety of different studies, includes a 26-year study on father's occupations and childhood mortality which shows "notable differences" in social class and childhood deaths.
It also shows a link between a father's job and cancer.
This is based on research published about 18 months ago which shows there is a small increased risk of contracting a kidney cancer called Wilms' tumour if the child's father works in agriculture.
But the researchers warn that there may be many other factors involved.
The ONS says death rates are continuing to fall as is fertility and deaths from hypothermia are also down.
But the number of men aged 35 to 39 who are dying rose by 7.5% between 1997 and 1998.
Health experts blame increases in prostate and testicular cancer and a rise in suicide.
The number of men being treated for depression and anxiety was 19% higher in 1996 than in 1994 and 15% up for women.
There was also a 10% increase in the treatment of high blood pressure and diabetes over the same period.
The bulletin once again shows a stark difference in health between rich and poor.
Treatment for coronary heart disease and depression was 40% higher in industrial areas than in professional areas.
Men in routine occupations had a mortality rate that was nearly three times higher than men in professional jobs.
The difference between life expectancy and birth between professional men and manual workers has risen from 5.5 years in 1972-76 to 9.5 years in 1996.
The difference for women has increased from 5.3 years to 6.4 years.
The variations were decreasing for women until 1991, but have begun to widen in recent years.
Another study shows that abortion figures are continuing to rise.
In the 20 to 29 age group, the number only rose by 1%, but in the over 30 age group the figure was 6%.
Ann Furedi, spokeswoman for the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, said: "The increase in the abortion rate may be because abortion is seen by more women as an acceptable way to manage an unwanted pregnancy.
"The abortion rate rose steeply after the pill scare in 1995. This was widely publicised and may have educated women that abortion is a legal and safe choice.
"This rise in the number of abortions is not necessarily a 'bad thing' if it demonstrates that women are more able to exercise reproductive choice."