Other Information on Child Health
The health and well-being of children is of fundamental importance to their ability to grow, develop, and learn. Much activity and effort is directed towards protecting their health and promoting their well-being. Inevitably a proportion of children will still at some point develop problems and illnesses. Parents and carers provide the care and treatment for the majority of childhood illnesses and problems. However, a proportion of problems and illnesses will result in a visit to a general medical practitioner and some will result in an admission to hospital. There is a great deal of information available nationally on the illnesses, injuries and other problems that result in hospital admissions or death. Less information is available on those treated, or cared for, by general medical practitioners and other health care professionals, such as therapists. This section outlines the other information on child health available from routine national data collated by ISD and other organisations.
Childhood death rates fell significantly during the 20th century and death in childhood is now rare. Factors that have contributed to this decline include: improved diet, sanitation and healthcare as well as wider availability of vaccinations and better access to antenatal and postnatal care.
Mortality rates are highest for children under the age of one year and the majority of these deaths occur in the first few days after birth. Information on death in childhood and infancy is available from the Scottish Perinatal and Infant Mortality and Morbidity Report (SPIMMR) and the General Register Office for Scotland (GROS) website (see Vital Events Reference Tables).
Improving the oral and dental health of children in Scotland is a key component of improving the oral and dental health of the general population of Scotland. The Dental Care section provides information on NHS dental care and services. This includes information on registrations with NHS General Dentists ('high street dentists') and number of patients treated and courses of treatments provided by the NHS Community Dental Service. Information on the National Dental Inspection Programme which provides information on the dental health of children in Primary 1 and Primary 7 is also available.
Practice Team Information (PTI) collects information from a sample of Scottish general practices about face-to-face consultations between patients and a member of the practice team. PTI data are routinely used to provide estimated numbers of patient consultations in general practice for Scotland. PTI data are also frequently used to estimate the number of consultations for a specific condition (for example asthma), and to estimate the number of patients who consult because of a condition, in any one year in Scotland. A number of the statistics are presented by age-group, thereby providing insight into consultations in general practice relating to children.
Children may be admitted to an acute hospital for a number of reasons including: specialist diagnostic procedures; emergency treatment following accidents; and routine, complex and life saving surgery. The Hospital Care pages include a section on childhood hospital admissions. This includes information on the number and type of admission, main diagnoses and main procedures/operations relating to children aged 14 and under.
Unintentional injury is one of the main causes of death and is one of the common causes of emergency hospital admissions in children. Information on emergency hospital admissions as a result of an unintentional injury and deaths caused by unintentional injury, for children and adults separately, is available from the Emergency Care Publications page.
Children are particularly vulnerable to infectious diseases. Health Protection Scotland (HPS) is responsible for the national surveillance of infectious diseases and co-ordination of national health protection activity. Data on notifiable and infectious diseases such as measles and chickenpox are available on the HPS website.
Mental health problems can occur at any age and indeed are relatively common even in young children. Many problems are never formally diagnosed or treated. Of the children who do receive formal help, most will be treated by their GP. Some are referred on to a specialist working in an outpatient setting and a very small number with the most severe problems are admitted to a psychiatric unit. Information on outpatient attendances at relevant specialties such as Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services is available as well as information on admissions to psychiatric units by age group.
The Scottish Cancer Registry publications include data on cancer at all ages, but the classification used is more suited to adult cancers than those found in persons under 15 years of age, whose cancers are more appropriately classified by histology than anatomical site. The data provided in the annual publications for incidence, mortality and survival from cancer at this age group have been re-analysed in accordance with the internationally accepted childhood cancer classification system and published in Childhood Cancers in Scotland (1983-2007).
Care Quality Indicators for Specialist Children's Services
The Women and Children's Health Information Programme established a project team to work in collaboration with the National Steering Group for the National Delivery Plan for Children and Young People in Scotland [440KB] (Scottish Government, 2007) to develop a capacity which would allow services to demonstrate for themselves, and to others, what aspects of quality have improved for children and young people.
The project closed in March 2011 following the successful development of a suite of indicator concepts and engagement with Managed Clinical Networks (MCNs) on how these should be measured.
A copy of the Final Project Report can be downloaded: Care Quality Indicators Final Report [250KB].
National Services Division (NSD) will continue to support networks through the ongoing reporting process which will allow networks to demonstrate improvements against the indicators as part of their quality assurance/performance management process.
There are also a number of national surveys that provide important information on the life circumstances, health related behaviours, and health status of Scotland's children, including:
- Growing Up in Scotland
- Infant Feeding Survey
- ONS surveys on the mental health of children
- Scottish Schools Adolescent Lifestyle and Substance Use Survey (SALSUS)
- Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC)
- Scottish Health Survey