Babies born in poorer areas are almost twice as likely to die as their peers born into wealthy postcodes, statistics have suggested.
Figures released by the Office for National Statistics have shown there were 2,636 infant deaths in England and Wales in 2017, down 0.6% from 2,651 the previous year.
In the poorest areas there were 5.2 deaths per 1,000 live births - compared to 2.7 deaths per 1,000 live births in the richest areas.
Both mortality rates have dropped over the past decade but in deprived areas the death rate has fallen by 23.5%.
However, across England and Wales the infant mortality rate rose from 3.8 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2016 to 3.9 deaths per 1,000 in 2017.
Babies born at lower weights faced the highest risk with the ONS revealing there were 34.7 deaths per 1,000 live births for babies weighing 2,500g, or 5.5lbs, or less.
The mortality rate hit a record low in 2014 when it dropped to 3.6 deaths per 1,000 live births - in 1980 the death rate was three times higher at 12.0 deaths per 1,000 live births.
Vasita Patel, of the vital statistics outputs branch of the Office for National Statistics, said: “During the last decade, the infant mortality rate in England decreased significantly from 4.6 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2008 to 3.6 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2014.
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“Since 2014, it has increased again, reaching 3.9 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2017. This is a statistically significant increase but the infant mortality rate is still 15.2% lower than 2008 and further monitoring is needed to confirm a change in the trend.
“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.
“These changes are small and subject to random fluctuations but when compared directly, the rate in 2017 is significantly higher than 2014. However further monitoring over the next few years is needed to confirm a change in the trend.”