Fewer babies are dying before their first birthday, thanks to a health service action plan.

And the greatest improvements are being made in the district’s poorest areas.

Seven years ago, Bradford had one of the country’s worst infant mortality rates.

In the district’s 20 per cent most deprived areas, one child in every hundred died within their first year.

Now this mortality rate has fallen by more than 26 per cent, thanks to a ten-point action plan rolled out by health bosses called Every Baby Matters.

Teenage pregnancy rates have fallen and the proportion of pregnant women seeing a midwife in their first 12 weeks of pregnancy has increased. There has also been a community education programme around the link between first-cousin marriage and genetic disorders.

But a report on the progress, going before a scrutiny committee this week, says the number of baby deaths in Bradford remains above the national and regional averages. It also highlights areas where seemingly little progress has been made.

The number of pregnant women who are still smoking by the time they give birth has stayed at about 17 per cent since 2011/12.

And the number of new mothers breastfeeding their babies at eight weeks old has stayed just as static, at about 40 per cent, despite efforts to encourage take-up.

Anita Parkin, director of public health, welcomed the progress. She said: “Every baby that is born is special but every time a new life is lost it is a tragedy not only for their parents but for society as a whole. We will continue to focus on ten key areas to improve the survival rates.”

Councillor Ralph Berry, the Council’s executive member for children’s services, said: “It is encouraging that babies born in the most deprived areas of Bradford now have a better chance in life because of the initiatives put in place.

“However, there is a great deal of work to be done.”