The deaths of one in five young people in England are caused by accidents, assaults, neglect and other preventable factors, according to new research.
Figures show 5,000 babies, children and teenagers die in England and Wales every year and the team behind one study say many of these deaths could have been avoided.
More must be done
Researchers found that in 2010 and 2011 a fifth of all the deaths of children and teens in England were preventable.
They include suicides, deaths caused by road traffic accidents, self-harm, abuse and serious medical conditions.
University of Warwick academic Peter Sidebotham says the findings suggest society could do more to prevent fatalities among children and young people of all ages.
He says some factors can’t be changed, such as how old victims are, whether they are male or female and their genetic make-up – but some deaths could be avoided with better healthcare and environmental changes.
Regional variations in child deaths
Another body of research suggests poverty makes children living in the Midlands, North and North West of England more likely to die young than those in the South and East.
Bucking the trend was the North East, which has low fatality rates compared to other northern regions.
It involved 4,000 babies and children under the age of 14 who lost their lives in England and Wales in a two-year period between 2009 and 2011.
A share of 23 in every 100,000 one to four-year-olds living in the North West died during those years, compared to 15 per 100,000 in the South East.
The next age group up, five to 14, saw 10 deaths per 100,000 people in the East Midlands and the North West, while in the East of England and South East the figure was eight for every 100,000.
Inequality a major factor
Dr Sidebotham believes politicians and the welfare and healthcare services in England and Wales all have the power to make changes and prevent many deaths of young people.
One way of doing this is to set policies that reduce inequality and this is just as important as improving healthcare and improving the wealth of the nation, he says.