Health visitors in Barnsley are reminding pregnant women and families with young children to claim their entitlement to free essential vitamins.
Healthy Start provides free milk, fruit, vegetables and infant formula to eligible groups, together with vitamin supplements for children up to four years old and pregnant women on a low income or receiving benefits. All pregnant women under 18 are also entitled to free vitamins.
“Approximately 15% of families in Barnsley are not yet claiming their Healthy Start entitlement – that’s around 800 families. We also know that only a small percentage of eligible families in Barnsley are taking advantage of the free vitamins recommended: 5% of children and 13% of women”, says Kath Cooper, from the Barnsley Healthy Settings 0 to 19 Years team.
Eligible families can get free vitamins from any Barnsley Children’s Centre, whilst non-eligible families can buy the vitamins from the Children’s Centres at a much reduced cost. All women in Barnsley can now receive two months’ supply of vitamins on booking at their antenatal clinic.
Alison Addy, health visitor in Barnsley, said, “It is vital families with young children who meet the eligibility criteria take advantage of Healthy Start as it will help to ensure children get the essential vitamins and nutrients they need during their early years of development.”
The Department of Health recommends that all pregnant women and children under the age of 4 years take vitamin D supplements in order to prevent adverse nutritional outcomes such as rickets.
To check if you qualify for the Healthy Start initiative, visit www.healthystart.nhs.uk. You can also contact your local children’s centre, health visitor or midwife or phone the Families Information Service on 0800 0345 340 for more information.
More about vitamin D deficiency and at-risk groups can be found at http://www.dh.gov.uk/health/2012/02/vitamin-d/