Free vitamins for all pregnant women

pregnant woman Image copyright PA

Every pregnant woman in Scotland will receive free vitamins starting this weekend.

Universal free supplements for expectant mothers are to be rolled out from 1 April.

The Scottish government said the move was aimed at improving the health of parents and children, and had widespread support from health workers.

Previously vitamins were only available to women and children from families receiving means-tested benefits.

Free vitamins

Image copyright Science Photo Library

Under the new scheme every pregnant women living north of the border will be entitled to healthy start tablets containing:

  • Folic acid, which reduces the chances of babies having spina bifida
  • Vitamin D, which helps mothers' bodies absorb calcium, allowing babies' bones to develop properly
  • Vitamin C, which helps maintain healthy tissue in the body

The supplements will be available from community pharmacies, dispensing practices, as well as some midwives and health visitors.

Public health minister Aileen Campbell said: "We are committed to giving every child in Scotland the very best start in life and helping women to enjoy a healthy pregnancy is a key part of this.

"There is strong evidence that taking vitamins during pregnancy improves both the mother and baby's health.

"By offering them to all pregnant women we can contribute towards giving every baby a fair and equal chance - a move that is widely supported by healthcare professionals."

The scheme is expected to cost £250,000.

Ms Campbell said a Scotland-wide survey had also begun on maternal and infant nutrition.

She said: "Data will be gathered on nutrition, breastfeeding, formula feeding and weaning practices, and help us strengthen the support we offer to new mothers.

"I would strongly encourage pregnant women and families with young infants who receive a survey pack to complete and return it."

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