Babies born in the UK to mothers originally from Pakistan or the Caribbean are twice as likely to die in infancy as babies whose mothers were born here, according to the latest report from the Office for National Statistics.

The 2000 edition of Social Inequalities , based on 1998 figures, once more highlights the inequalities in health between rich and poor within the UK.

For every 1,000 babies born to women who were themselves born in the UK, five will die in the first year of life.

That rises to six in 1,000 for babies whose mothers were born outside the UK and 10 in 1,000 for babies whose mothers were born in the Caribbean commonwealth or Pakistan.

Dr Shiv Pande, a Liverpool GP and chair of the British Ethnic Association, said women from these groups tended to come from lower socio-economic groups. They also tended not to visit a GP.

'The patients are unaware of the services available, and the GPs are not aware of the needs of the patients, ' he said.

The ONS report also shows that, despite a fall in the overall infant mortality rate, which has more than halved since 1974, those in lower social classes remain more at risk than those in professional classes.

The figures are small, but the statistics show that death rates for children aged one to four from classes IV and V, whose fathers were partly skilled or unskilled, were 28 in 1,000 - half as much again as those in professional classes I and II.

Teenage pregnancy rates continue to be high. In 1998, nine in 1,000 girls aged 13 to 15 conceived before they were 16, although they may have had abortions.The rate varied from seven in 1,000 in Eastern region to 11 in 1,000 in Northern and Yorkshire, Trent and the West Midlands.

Girls living in local authority accommodation or from families with four or more children were more likely to conceive under age.

Child mental health was also linked to family income. Sixteen per cent of children aged five to 15 in a family with a gross weekly income of less than£200 suffered some type of mental disorder.

The rate was only 6 per cent in children in which the family income was more than£500.

Where the parent had never worked, the rate of childhood mental illness was 21 per cent, compared to a national average of 10 per cent.

John Nicholson, chief executive of the UK Public Health Association, said the figures highlighted the need for a comprehensive government-wide strategy to tackle the links between poverty and health, not just initiatives within the Department of Health.

'These figures show all health is very much linked with poverty or lack of income.

'We are calling for a national strateg y on tackling health inequality across all government departments, not just the NHS.'

A Department of Health spokesperson said the ONS statistics were 'a bit old' and failed to take account of the impact of changes in government policies, such as the introduction of a minimum wage.

But health inequalities were high on the agenda for the NHS, he said.

Social Inequalities: 2000 edition. The Stationery Office.£30.