Page last updated at 12:46 GMT, Thursday, 23 April 2009 13:46 UK

City baby death rate 'still high'

Baby death rates in Bradford are among the worst in England and Wales

The number of babies dying in Bradford remains "significantly higher" than the national average two years after a study of the city's infant death toll.

An updated report for Bradford council on Thursday shows that infant mortality rates in the district are still among the worst in England and Wales.

New data for 2005-2007 show the city's infant mortality rate was 8.3 per 1,000 live births compared to 5.0 nationally.

That is up from 7.2 in 2004-2006, but down from a peak of 9.4 in 2002-2004.

Throughout that entire period, the national average for England and Wales has remained stable at about five deaths per 1,000.

Women smokers

In 2006, the newly-formed Bradford Infant Mortality Commission identified 10 priority areas for action.

They included reducing poverty among Bradford families, cutting the number of pregnant women who smoke or drink alcohol and promoting breastfeeding.

The report being considered by Bradford council's health improvement committee on Thursday outlines the steps being taken across the city to reduce deaths among babies under the age of 12 months.

It includes figures for baby deaths between 2005 and 2007 which were not available when the Infant Mortality Commission reported in 2006.

"It clearly illustrates a continuing pattern of district infant mortality rates that not only remain consistently higher than the national average but also demonstrate the gap between the two is not decreasing," the latest report says.

"Although the overall trend is downward from 1998 onwards, the latest data available shows a slight increase."

Deprived areas

Between 1996 and 1998, the infant mortality rate in Bradford was 8.4 per 1,000 live births.

The rate peaked in 2000-2002 at 9.4 per 1,000 live births, compared with an average of 5.5 in England and Wales.

The Bradford figure dipped to 7.2 in 2004-2006, but the latest data available shows that it rose again to 8.3 between 2005 and 2007.

The updated report also demonstrates that the inequalities between the most deprived parts of Bradford - the City and Little Horton wards - and the rest of the district remain the same.

It concludes: "Infant mortality rates remain of concern; they are reducing slowly overall since 1998 but recent rates have shown a slight increase and the gap between least and most deprived communities remains.

"Overall rates remain significantly higher than England and Wales."

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