Caution urged over village's high death rate.

EXPERTS have urged caution over figures that show a South Wales village has a higher death rate than some countries in sub-Saharan Africa.

Bryncethin, with a population of just 1,300 people, has a higher death rate per 100,000 people than of Rwanda and Niger.

The Office for National Statistics data shows the area has a death rate of 1,499 deaths per 100,000 people - the highest in England and Wales.

Rwanda, according to the World Health Organisation, has a death rate of 1,427 per 100,000 population.

But experts have urged caution interpreting the figures, claiming they could be little more than a statistical anomaly, caused by a couple of unexpected deaths in Bryncethin. The area's death rate is equivalent to just 19 deaths in 2009.

Dr Annie Delahunty, a consultant in public health medicine for Public Health Wales, said: "The data published by ONS identifies death rates by very small areas, which makes the figures unreliable estimates that can vary greatly from one year to another.

"In the case of Bryncethin, there are only around 1,300 people living in the area and we would expect to see year-on-year fluctuations as in any area with a small resident population.

"Higher than average death rates are often seen in areas that are deprived, but this does not relate to the population of Bryncethin, which is actually in the least deprived fifth of Welsh communities.

"The population of Bryncethin is younger and more affluent than the Welsh average."

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