All pregnant women will receive free vitamins by next spring as part of the Scottish Government’s commitment to giving children the best start in life.
Announcing the move today, the First Minister said helping women enjoy a healthy pregnancy is a key part of the Scottish Government’s increased support for parents and children.
Some pregnant women already receive free vitamins and the move to provide universal access will improve parent and children’s health and enjoys wide support among healthcare professionals.
The Scottish Government is strengthening support for new parents, babies and children in other areas, by:
– Giving every newborn a ‘baby box’ of essential items, to help all children to get the best start in life
– Recruiting 500 more health visitors to help improve child health and wellbeing
– Extending the Family Nurse Partnership to support every new teenage mother
– Doubling childcare to 30 hours a week for all three and four year olds and vulnerable two year olds.
The First Minister was at Townhead Village Hall in Glasgow today to have a picnic with new and expectant parents and discuss the Scottish Government’s commitment to increase support for parents and children.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said:
‘Every child deserves a fair and equal chance and offering all pregnant women vitamins sends a strong signal that, right from the very start of life, we are doing all we can to help.
‘There is strong evidence that taking vitamins in pregnancy improves both the mother and baby’s health and providing free vitamins, to all pregnant women, has the widespread support of healthcare professionals.
‘This move is part of a concerted effort to give every child the best start in life.
‘Within a year, every child born in Scotland will receive a baby box of essential items and I’m excited to be introducing it in Scotland. The baby box has a proven record in tackling deprivation, improving health and supporting parents and we’ll shortly begin a dialogue with parents to gather their views on shaping its contents and the best way to deliver it.
‘To further improve child health and wellbeing, we’ll recruit 500 more health visitors, and we’ll transform the life chances of all of our children by doubling childcare entitlement for three and four year olds and vulnerable two year olds, thereby helping more parents, particularly mothers, into work.
‘We’ll also consider using new social security powers to introduce a maternity and early years allowance to tackle inequality and give financial support to low income parents.’
Chief Medical Officer for Scotland Catherine Calderwood said:
‘As an obstetrician I am delighted at this announcement. We understand the long term positive effects that good nutrition can have for pregnant women and offering these essential vitamins will help to improve the health of mothers, babies and children in Scotland.’
Jackie Tolland, Parents Network Scotland added:
‘Anything that we can do to give children the best start in life can only reap benefits in the years to come. Most parents do eat healthily and do look after themselves, but as we know being pregnant can drain energy and vitamins from mum. The whole range of support being put forward is a commitment to our future families, and also alongside the emotional support we provide to mums and dads, I’m sure we are now onto a winning formula.’