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Scotland's health improving rapidly

Overall health in Scotland is "improving rapidly", but poor areas are still lagging behind, the country's Chief Medical Officer has said.

Dr Harry Burns claimed that inequalities are getting wider between the most affluent areas and those in the most need of help.

His annual report also warned that "adverse events" during pregnancy and the early years of childhood can increase the chance of mental and physical health problems as youngsters grow up.

Postnatal depression, poor nutrition, violence and substance abuse by parents can all affect young people, he added.

He said: "Work emerging from a number of different countries shows very clearly that the circumstances in which a child is brought into the world and in which he or she lives in the first few years of life can have a major impact on future physical and mental health.

"Evidence is building up that the quality of parenting is important, not just for the mental health of children, but for the physical health of children, and that extends into adulthood.

"Things like breastfeeding and good nutrition, immunisation, economic stability, getting people out of poverty, getting people out of chaotic environments, all of these things can support positive child health."

Chief Medical Officer for Scotland

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