Skip to content
Skip to main content

About this free course

Download this course

Share this free course

Physical and mental health for young children
Physical and mental health for young children

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

1 The current state of children’s health

Advances in medicine and living conditions over the last 150 years or so have resulted in improved life expectancy and reduced child mortality, meaning that many more children survive infancy. The medical discoveries that have been significant in preventing death and improving the quality of lives includes the discovery of vaccines (to prevent or reduce the impact of some infectious diseases) and penicillin (to treat infectious diseases caused by bacteria). Improved living conditions in countries like England, such as sanitation and access to clean water, have been significant in improving health.

Since the start of the twenty-first century, other threats to children’s health have emerged which are of great concern to global, national and professional organisations. The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health State of Child Health Report stated that:

The health of infants, children and young people in the UK has improved dramatically over the last 30 years. Many will lead happy and healthy lives, but the future health and happiness of a significant number is in jeopardy. The bottom line is that the UK could do far more to improve child health and wellbeing.

(RCPH, 2017, p. 4)

The COVID-19 pandemic may not have caused the same numbers of illness and deaths in babies and young children as it did in older and vulnerable people. However, there are unforeseen consequences that have had, and still are impacting, on children’s health. As the world is recovering from the impact of the restrictions that were put in place to limit the spread of coronavirus during the pandemic, the impact on children, especially those living in poverty and disadvantage, is becoming evident. For example, many children were unable to access outdoor spaces that enabled them to be physically active, which in turn could have contributed to increased childhood obesity.

The following section describes the contemporary health conditions that are affecting children.