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Teenage mums need a "nationwide strategy"

A study suggests contraception and family planning services need to be specifically tailored to the needs of young mums.

Although on the decrease since the late 1990s, the UK still has the highest teenage pregnancy rate in Western Europe.

Authors of a paper published in The Obstetrician and Gynaecologist say the government needs to start providing services applicable to teenagers' needs.

Sexual health clinics should provide a range of services, they say, such as diet advice, smoking cessation clinics and help returning to school after the birth.

Author Louise Kenny, consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist at Cork University Maternity Hospital in Ireland said: "At a practical level, antenatal care should be tailored to the individual needs of pregnant teenagers.

"There is an important opportunity here to encourage smoking and alcohol cessation, and provide counsel regarding the risks of sexual transmitted infections an on the use of contraception afterwards."

She adds that pregnant teenagers should also be encouraged to attend both antenatal and postnatal classes, as many young mums tend to feel isolated when bringing up their babies.

"All too often, these teenager slip through the system and we don't find out about them until there is a problem," she says.

"We need a nationwide strategy to engage more thoroughly with pregnant teenagers so that we can provide the services they need and reduce the incidence of maternal deaths and complications among this group of mothers."

The Obstertrician and Gynaecologist

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