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School pregnancy clinics proposed

Antenatal clinics could be set up in schools to care for pregnant teenagers, the health watchdog has said.

Evidence shows that pregnant under-20s often feel excluded from mainstream antenatal care or judged by their peers, according to the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice).

It wants midwives to be able to go into schools to offer advice to expectant young mothers and carry out health checks.

It is part of a wider package of care aimed at women from deprived backgrounds, including those suffering social deprivation, domestic abuse, drug or alcohol misuse and women who struggle with written and spoken English.

Experts behind the guidance, which applies to England and Wales, said services should be tailored to the needs of women in each region, such as providing "one-stop shop" antenatal care in areas with high teen pregnancy rates.

Information suitable for women of a young age should be provided and staff should create opportunities for the baby's father to be involved in antenatal care if the mother agrees.

The guidance said NHS trusts should commission "antenatal care and education in peer groups in a variety of settings, such as GP surgeries, children's centres and schools".

It added: "Young women aged under 20 may be reluctant to recognise their pregnancy or inhibited by embarrassment and fear of parental reaction. They may also have practical problems such as difficulty getting to and from antenatal appointments."

Rhona Hughes, chair of the guideline development group, said no British schools were currently providing antenatal classes but it was a "common pattern of care" in the US. She added that teenagers can "feel embarrassed going to clinics where there are older women", and can feel like an outsider.

Health minister Lord Howe said: "Every woman should be given high quality care both during and after pregnancy. Most mums already do, but to get it right for everyone, including those with more complex needs, we must abandon the one-size-fits-all approach."

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