Hospitalisations and deaths among young people in care 'avoidable'

Researchers suggest health conditions could be better managed.

Hospitalisations and deaths among young people in care ‘avoidable’ iStock

Many hospitalisations and deaths among children and young people who have been in care are “completely avoidable”, it has been claimed.

A study was carried out by researchers at the University of Glasgow to look at the health outcomes of care-experienced children in Scotland.

According to the report, while the onset of illnesses such as Type 1 diabetes or epilepsy are unavoidable, those health conditions could be better managed and hospitalisations avoided.

Researchers estimate that the prevalence of diabetes is similar among care experienced and other children, but that care experienced people are twice as likely to be hospitalised for diabetes.

Dr Mirjam Allik, research fellow at the University of Glasgow, stated that ill health and health inequalities are not an inevitability.

“Our findings demonstrate that there are instances where children with care experience have poorer health outcomes than their peers,” said Allik.

“However, this does not simply imply that being in care has caused this. Often, hospitalisation rates are higher before a child enters care and reduced while in foster or kinship care.

“We want to stress that many cases of ill health and health inequalities between children and young people are not an inevitability.

“Our results and recommendations aim to provide a foundation for the delivery of better outcomes for care experienced children.

“Receiving social care can be a positive life change for children and young people and with the right support, care-experienced children and young people can attain excellent health that continues throughout their lives.”

Joanne Smith, National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC), welcomed the next phase of research in looking at pregnancy.

“The report lays bare the additional health inequalities experienced by children in care and offers a timely reminder that we can and must do better to protect those children who need us most,” she said.

“This research will allow for robust analysis of how the anticipated changes driven by The Promise are impacting on children’s health outcomes over time.

“We are pleased that the next phase of research will look at pregnancy. We know that what happens in the early years lays the foundations of all future wellbeing and health.”

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