Infant mortality rates in England and Wales have risen for the third year in a row with families in the poorest communities worst affected, official data shows.
Between 2016 and 2017 the infant mortality rate rose from 3.8 deaths per 1,000 births, to 3.9 per 1,000, data from the Office of National Statistics shows.
This means the infant mortality rate has risen "significantly" since it hit a record low in 2014, and in the most deprived communities it stands as high as 5.2 deaths per 1,000.
“The infant mortality rate had been reducing since the 1980s, but since an all-time low in 2014 the rate has increased every year between 2014 to 2017," said Vasita Patel, from the ONS Vital Statistics Outputs Branch.
Mortality rates are split across socioeconomic lines, with the lowest mortality in the least deprived areas and to parents in professional or managerial roles. It was highest among families who work in routine or manual jobs, although both sets of workers have seen mortality rise since 2014.
The latest rises suggest the long term decline established over decades of improving health care and midwifery may have come to a halt.
Labour’s shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth MP, said. “Ministers can’t ignore the fundamental truth that rising child poverty, deprivation and severe inequality betray our children and worsen health outcomes"