Good News or Bad News?

The good news is that in many ways the children and young people of Glasgow are healthier than in the past, and many of those overall improvements continue.  

Click on our infographic for the key information on this topic. child health 2016 infographic - if you require an accessible version or transcript, please email info@gcph.co.uk

  • In 2019, the infant death rate in Glasgow was 3.1 per 1,000 live births, a huge improvement on the position in 1855 when nearly 200 infants in every 1,000 died in their first year of life.
  • Rates of smoking in pregnancy are falling, whilst breastfeeding is slowly increasing – both of these trends will result in health improvements.

The bad news is that Glasgow’s children are not all benefiting from those improvements. The most important factor in explaining this is deprivation. When we make comparisons between children and young people living in the 10% most deprived areas in Glasgow, and the 10% least deprived, the most recent figures show that the in the most deprived areas:

  • newborns were 18 times more likely to have a mother who smoked during the pregnancy
  • were almost twice as likely to have a low birth weight (less than 2.5kgs, i.e. approx 5lbs 8 oz), and 50% more likely to be born prematurely
  • were 70% more likely to have a hospital admission due to an unintentional injury in the home (under 15s), and ten times more likely to have a hospital admission due to an assault (under 24s).   

As a result, the overall health of Glasgow’s child population is not as good as that for neighbouring local authorities, or for other Scottish cities.

Why is child health so important?

  • Poor physical or mental health causes a child to suffer
  • Physical damage sustained when someone is a child is not always reversible (e.g. rotten teeth don’t re-grow, diabetes developing in adolescence, or disability as a result of a car crash won’t go away)
  • If poor physical or mental health results in poor educational attainment and disaffection with society, the underachievement and low self esteem will affect wellbeing for life
  • Children and young people who experience control over their own lives can see the point in developing good habits (e.g. diet, exercise, positive coping strategies) which will have long term positive effects
  • Poor health in a child causes strain in the family, affecting parents’/carers’ health, relationships and employment

The health indicators on these web pages don’t show every aspect of child health – they have been chosen partly because they are readily available, and partly because they show time trends and inequalities, potential for intervention, and lifelong importance. In this section you will find information on breastfeeding, childhood obesity, dental health, infant deathslow birth weight, prematurity,  smoking in pregnancy, unintentional injuries, and injuries due to assault. You will see how figures for Glasgow have changed over time, and how they compare with other Scottish Cities and neighbouring Local Authorities. Although this section does not include statistics on disability or mental health, we consider these to be such important topics that we have included pages to explain why those statistics aren’t included here, where you can find more information, and what we hope to be able to provide in the future.

In the Targets and strategies section, important aims and policies set by Glasgow City Council, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde and the Scottish Government in relation to child health are summarised, with links to policy documents. Sources of more extensive information (such as evidence of the impact of poverty on child health, and sites featuring further child health data) are highlighted in a resources sectionNotes on the data used in this section are summarised.  Trends and patterns in the health of Glasgow’s overall population (i.e. adults included) are described within the main set of Glasgow indicators.

The data on the Understanding Glasgow website comes from a variety of administrative sources and surveys, and the frequency of updates to these sources varies. The graphs and text on each page should indicate the period to which an indicator refers.  In some cases, where more recently published data is not available, we still use older published sources, such as the 2011 Census. Find out more about the timeliness of data presented on this website.

Additional Resources

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