Marriages between relatives 'contribute to high infant mortality rate' (From East London and West Essex Guardian Series)
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Infant mortality in Waltham Forest higher than London and national averages
Poverty and marriages between related people are believed to be a contributing factor to a high infant mortality rate in Waltham Forest, according to the borough’s director of public health.
Speaking to a council committee last night, Vicky Hobart, also said that fact that babies are sleeping on their fronts is also a significant contributing factor.
The infant mortality rate in the borough is above the London and national average, with five deaths for every 1,000 births, according to the latest figures.
The number of still births and deaths of children less than one month old are the seventh highest of all London boroughs.
Speaking to the Children and Young People Overview and Scrutiny Sub-Committee last night, Ms Hobart said poverty was the major factor, but marriages between relatives, which is more prevalent in the Asian community, leads to higher levels of hereditary problems.
Dr Tonia Myers, of the Waltham Forest Clinical Commissioning Group, added: “We have high levels of children with disabilities and where close family members marry this is more likely.
“First cousins that marry are more likely to express recessive genetic conditions.”
The deaths of one in three children who were less than one year old were due to congenital abnormalities, the latest data from 2009 shows.
Waltham Forest Council has taken on extra responsibility for public health under changes to health services.
Ms Hobart refused to speak to the Guardian after the meeting to discuss the issues raised further.
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