The overall child mortality in the UK has fallen by 50 percent in the past 20 years, but young maternal age was found to be a risk factor for death in early childhood, according to researchers. (Agencies)
The research led by the Institute of Child Health at University College London (UCL) looked at why children die in the UK using death registration data from January 1980 to December 2010.
Researchers found that in England, Scotland and Wales, the difference in mortality between children of mothers under 30 and those born to mothers aged 30 to 34 accounted for 11 percent of all deaths up to nine years old, 'BBC News' reported.
This is equivalent to an average of 397 deaths in the UK each year, the study said. Deaths among children born to mothers under 20 accounted for just 3.8 percent of all child deaths up to nine years old.
According to the study, the biggest difference in deaths was in infants aged from one month to one year.
Among this age group, 22 percent of deaths in the UK were due to "unexplained causes", the study said, "Which are strongly associated with maternal alcohol use, smoking and deprivation".
The study added that the current policy, which focuses support on teenage first-time mothers, was not wide-ranging enough because mothers aged under 30 account for 52 percent of all births in the UK.
Ruth Gilbert, lead researcher and professor of clinical epidemiology at UCL Institute of Child Health, said the findings were important.
"Young maternal age at birth is becoming a marker of social disadvantage as women who have been through higher education and those with career prospects are more likely to postpone pregnancy until their 30s. Universal policies are needed to address the disparities," Gilbert said.
The study, commissioned by the Healthcare Quality Improvement Partnership and published by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, also found that injuries continue to be the biggest cause of death in childhood, but they are declining.
Between 1980 and 2010, injuries accounted for 31 percent of deaths in one to four-year-olds and 48 percent of deaths in those aged 15 to 18.
There was no decline in deaths due to intentional injury or self-harm over 30 years, the research found.
The study also found that up to 70 percent of children who die in the UK have chronic conditions such as cancer, cystic fibrosis or epilepsy.
This may not necessarily be the cause of their death but was likely to be an underlying factor in it.
The overall child mortality in the UK has fallen by 50 percent in the past 20 years, but young maternal age was found to be a risk factor for death in early childhood, according to researchers.