All pregnant women will receive free vitamins by next spring, the Scottish government has announced.
Some pregnant women in Scotland already receive free vitamins and the move to provide universal access will improve parent and children’s health, said the government in a statement.
“Providing free vitamins, to all pregnant women, has the widespread support of healthcare professionals”
It added that helping women “enjoy a healthy pregnancy” was a key part of its increased support for parents and children.
The move “enjoys wide support among healthcare professionals”, the Scottish government claimed in its statement.
Announcing the new vitamin policy at Townhead Village Hall in Glasgow today, Scotland’s 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,” she said.
She also restated pledges to give every newborn a “baby box” of essential items, to recruit 500 more health visitors and extend the Family Nurse Partnership to support every new teenage mother.
“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,” she said. “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.”
She added: “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.”
Chief medical officer for Scotland Catherine Calderwood said she was “delighted” by the announcement on universal access to vitamins during pregnancy.
“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,” she said.