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Call for school antenatal classes

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Antenatal clinics could be set up in schools to care for pregnant teenagers, the health watchdog has said.

Evidence shows that pregnant under-20s often feel excluded from mainstream antenatal care or judged by their peers, according to NICE.

It wants midwives to be able to go into schools to offer advice to expectant young mothers and carry out health checks.

It is part of a wider package of care aimed at women from deprived backgrounds, including those suffering social deprivation, domestic abuse, drug or alcohol misuse and women who struggle with written and spoken English.

Experts behind the guidance, which applies to England and Wales, said services should be tailored to the needs of women in each region, such as providing “one-stop shop” antenatal care in areas with high teen pregnancy rates.

Information suitable for women of a young age should be provided and staff should create opportunities for the baby’s father to be involved in antenatal care if the mother agrees.

The guidance said trusts should commission “antenatal care and education in peer groups in a variety of settings, such as GP surgeries, children’s centres and schools”.

Louise Silverton, deputy general secretary of the RCM, said implementing the guidelines would require extra resources and staffing “at a level that it is not clearly available in the current context of cutbacks in NHS spending”.

She said: “These important recommendations will require significantly more, rather than less, one-to-one care and time from midwives.

“It is also disappointing that most of the evidence in the guideline comes from a setting outside the UK.

“Consequently, this calls into question the applicability of this evidence to UK-wide services.

“There is also very limited evidence of the acceptability of this research to women and midwives.

“Nevertheless, we are pleased to see the recommendations and believe that it is a step in the right direction and that this area needs further research.”

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