Health of young people becoming a large concern

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Health problems in children and young people are significantly worse in South Ribble compared with the rest of England, a shocking report has found.

Worrying numbers of women who smoke while pregnant and the amount of under-18s being admitted to hospital for alcohol-related issues mean that health risks for children and teens are at an all-time high in the borough.

The latest Health Profile for South Ribble, published by Public Health England, also shows that figures relating to breast-feeding are ‘significantly worse’ than the national average. However, the problems of obese children and teenage pregnancies are not much different to the rest of England.

For adults, the major issues are hospital stays for alcohol-related harm, while road injuries and deaths have also been flagged up as a concern.

Deprivation is lower than the national average, but life expectancy is almost nine years lower for men and seven years lower for women in the most deprived areas, compared to those in the least deprived parts.

The Broadfield and Wade Hall areas of Leyland are the most deprived parts, while Longton and Hutton are among the least deprived.

South Ribble fared well in the ‘our communities’ domain of the 2013 Health Profile report, with overall figures for deprivation, children living in poverty, homelessness, violent crime and long-term unemployment all being classed as ‘significantly better’ than the England average.

GCSE results of the number of students gaining five A*-C grades are similar to the national picture, but this has fallen since the 2012 report.

In ‘children and young people’s health’, three of the five factors are worse than the rest of England (smoking during pregnancy, breast-feeding and alcohol-specific stays for under-18s). Obesity and teenage pregnancies are average.

‘Adults’ health and lifestyle’ paints a brighter picture for the borough in general, with the number of obese adults being significantly lower than average, and lifestyle choices such as smoking, drinking, healthy eating and physical activity not varying much from the rest of England. But the smoking figure was ‘significantly better’ than the national average in 2012.

Hospital stays for alcohol-related harm in adults lets the ‘diseases and poor health’ category down, with other issues getting more positive results.

Drug misuse, people diagnosed with diabetes, new cases of tuberculosis and acute sexually transmitted infections are all said to be less of a problem in South Ribble compared to the rest of the UK.

The proportion of people suffering from acute sexually transmitted infections, has dropped since 2012.

Incidences ofskin cancer, hospital stays for self-harm, and hip fractures in those aged 65 and over do not differ greatly from the national average.

For ‘life expectancy and causes of death’ , road incidents are a major problem.

The borough fares better than the rest of England for life expectancy in men and t early deaths from cancer.

Last year deaths caused by heart disease or stroke, as well as infant deaths, were said to be less of a concern compared with the average, but both factors are now similarly placed within the national average.

Excess winter deaths, life expectancy for women and smoking-related deaths are all similar to the national picture.

Sakthi Karunanithi, director of public health for Lancashire County Council, said: “We face some tough health challenges across Lancashire. We’re working with our partners to address the issues highlighted in Public Health England’s profile report.

“Around 22 per cent of Lancashire’s population smoke and we’re working with local stop smoking services to encourage people to get the support they need to quit for good. We’re also running specific schemes to encourage people to keep their homes smokefree and stop smoking when pregnant to protect their children from the dangerous effects of second-hand smoke.

“We’ve also written to the government to encourage them to introduce a minimum unit price for alcohol to discourage people from drinking.

“We work with local businesses to encourage them to check anyone who looks 21 years old or younger for ID to ensure they are aged 18 or over.

“Furthermore, we’ve introduced 20mph limits in residential areas and outside schools.

“We are carrying out research to make sure investments in road safety have the most impact.”