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Extra support for first-time teenage mothers

Edinburgh becomes the first city to extend family nurse partnership service to all mothers aged 19 and under

Every first-time teenage mother in Edinburgh will be offered intensive support from a nurse, under an extension of the family nurse partnership programme announced by the Scottish government.

The city is the first in the world to make the programme available to all new mothers aged 19 or under. Developed in the United States, it involves nurses working with young mothers until their children are two years old, helping them to build their skills as parents and to consider their plans for the future.

Research has shown improved early language development and academic acheivement in children whose mothers have had support from the family nurse partnership programme. The children are also less likely to be neglected or abused and more likely to spend time with their fathers.

Announcing the city-wide rollout of the service, first minister Nicola Sturgeon said more than 2,000 mothers have benefited from the programme across Scotland, 600 of them in Lothian. 'It is one of the best investments we can make as a society – we give young mothers the support they need, we help children to get the best possible start in life, and we reduce public spending further down the line, because we have better health, education and employment outcomes,' she said.

'This will make a difference to mothers and children across the city, and is a testament to the success of the partnership so far.'

NHS Lothian executive nurse director Melanie Johnson said: 'The service began as a pilot in January 2010 and since then has gone from strength to strength. It has also made a real and lasting impact across the rest of Lothian and also Scotland.'

RCN Scotland director Theresa Fyffe said these partnerships 'have the potential to make a real difference to people’s lives', and also to reduce long-term spending by the NHS and other agencies. 'It’s great news that NHS Lothian is to provide this intensive service to all eligible mothers in Edinburgh,' she said. 'I hope that, if it continues to prove its worth, all first-time teenage mums across Scotland have the opportunity to benefit from a local family nurse partnership.'

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