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More nurses for at-risk families

More health visitors and specialist teams will work with at-risk families in England under new government plans.

As part of the national Child Health Strategy, launched by Ed Balls, children's secretary, and Alan Johnson, health secretary, the number of areas where Family Nurse Partnerships exist will rise from 30 to 70.

The partnerships involve teams of nurses working with vulnerable families from early pregnancy until a child is two.

Each of the six nurses in the team work with around 25 mothers and provide support and advice during a series of regular home visits.

Following the success of a pilot scheme and a similar programme in the USA, which was shown to improve the health and wellbeing of disadvantaged children, the UK government is now investing £30 million in the expansion of the programme.

Results from the US pilot showed that pregnant women were healthier, there were fewer subsequent pregnancies and a 50% to 70% drop in child injuries, neglect and abuse.

The partnerships have also been found to increase the involvement of fathers in their children's upbringing.

Copyright © Press Association 2009

Department of Health