The BMA has published a report ‘Growing up in the UK – Ensuring a healthy future for our children’ which builds on the BMA’s 1999 report on children’s health and brings together the latest global research.
The report highlights that more children and young people are dying in the UK than in other countries in northern and Western Europe and puts forwards a series of recommendations to improve the health of the nation's children.
The report recommends identifying families where lifestyle could affect the health of an unborn child, for example, a household where parents smoke, take drugs, misuse alcohol, and investing in the community and family support schemes to tackle these issues. The report also suggests providing evidence-based parenting courses and raising awareness about the benefits of breastfeeding as another way of improving child well-being.
Commenting on the BMA report, Dr David Richmond, RCOG Vice President, Clinical Quality said:
“This report emphasises the fact that intervention to improve children’s future health and welfare must begin before they are born with measures such as providing parenting classes, identifying at-risk families and improving maternal nutrition.
“Previous research has shown the adverse effects that smoking, alcohol misuse and a poor diet can have on an unborn child, including poor fetal development, low birth weight, infection, stillbirth, and mortality.
“As healthcare professionals, it is our role to reinforce the importance of a healthy lifestyle both during pregnancy and throughout a woman’s lifespan in order to maintain their own and their baby’s health.
“We welcome this report and the continued need for increased public policy and education on the effects an unhealthy lifestyle can have on an unborn child and beyond.”
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To read the full report, click here.