Press Release

Indicators Show Considerable Improvements To The Health Of Children In Ireland

The Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Barry Andrews TD today launched the State of the Nation’s Children Report: Ireland 2010. This Report, which is the third in a biennial series, was compiled by the Office of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs at the Department of Health and Children, in association with the Central Statistics Office and the Health Promotion Research Centre at National University of Ireland, Galway.

The State of the Nation’s Children Report: Ireland 2010 presents administrative, survey and Census data on children’s lives, including the recently published data on educational attainment (PISA Study) and poverty (EU-Survey on Income and Living Conditions). It focuses specifically on children’s outcomes (including health, educational and social, emotional and behavioural), children’s relationships with family and friends and children’s services and supports.

Speaking at the launch today, Minister Andrews welcomed the Report and the contribution it makes to understanding children’s lives in Ireland. Minister Andrews was encouraged by some of the findings from the Report particularly in the area of children’s health. This included the decline in child deaths and teen births, the increase in childhood immunisation rates and the increase in breastfeeding initiation rates. ‘While breastfeeding initiation rates in Ireland remain comparatively low, I pleased nevertheless to see modest year on year improvements on this indicator’ stated the Minister.

‘Also of note in this Report are the impressive improvements in data on child well-being. In this Report, previously identified data gaps around the areas of early childhood care and education and childhood obesity have been closed and more sophisticated data analyses has enabled a greater focus on the more vulnerable groups of children in Ireland, including Traveller children, immigrant children and children with a disability and/or chronic illness. Unfortunately, this analyses shows that these vulnerable groups of children do not tend to fare as well as children in Ireland more generally across many of the indicators’continued the Minister.

Other findings of concern highlighted by the Minister were the increases observed in consistent poverty and in the number of children in families on a waiting list for social housing.

Anne-Marie Brooks, Researcher at the Department of Health and Children also commented on the Report, highlighting a mix of both positive and negative findings, including the following:

  • Immigrant children and children with a disability and/or chronic illness are more likely to report to have been bullied at school (HBSC Survey, Health Promotion Research Centre, 2006).
  • One in every 8 primary school children and one in every 6 post-primary school children miss 20 days or more in the school year (National Educational Welfare Board, 2007/08).
  • Almost one-quarter of 7-year-old children are either overweight or obese (WHO European Childhood Obesity Surveillance Initiative, National Nutrition Surveillance Centre, 2008).
  • The percentage of children experiencing consistent poverty increased significantly since 2008 (EU-SILC, Central Statistics Office, 2009).
  • There has been a significant increase in the percentage of children who report that they find it easy to talk to their fathers when something is really bothering them (HBSC Survey, Health Promotion Research Centre, 2006).
  • Science literacy scores of 15-year-olds in Ireland are significantly above the OECD average (PISA Survey, Education Research Centre, 2009).
  • Breastfeeding initiation rates have continued to increase (National Perinatal Reporting System, Economic and Social Research Institute, 2008).
  • The numbers of hospital discharges among children with a diagnosis of ‘transport accidents’, ‘intentional self-harm’ and ‘accidental poisoning’ continue to fall (Hospital In-Patient Enquiry, Department of Health and Children, 2009).

Read the Report