NCT response to Growing up in Scotland report

Released on: 22 February 2013

Growing Up in Scotland is a large-scale longitudinal research project aimed at tracking the lives of several cohorts of Scottish children from the early years, through childhood and beyond. The report provides a detailed insight into the first set of data collected from the study’s second birth cohort – representative of all children born in Scotland between 1st March 2010 and 28th February 2011 – around the time they were aged 10 months old.

Elizabeth Duff, Senior Policy Adviser of parent charity NCT said:

"The Growing up in Scotland: Birth Cohort 2 report presents a wide range of interesting data that will be of great use to the Scottish Government.

"The data show that families with young children have lower incomes than their counterparts five years ago. Becoming a parent can put huge financial strain on your household and the report also shows that, alongside rising food and fuel prices, the cost of childcare has risen on average by £624 per year. To help relieve this financial pressure, it's important that the Government ensures that benefits are sufficient to meet the needs of Scottish families.

"1 in 5 women reported an illness during their pregnancy, a significant increase from 13% in the first cohort. Any woman who falls ill during pregnancy should talk to their midwife or consult their GP or pharmacist before taking medicine or supplements.

"It is recommended that pregnant women and those who are breastfeeding take vitamin D supplements of 10 micrograms a day. However, only just over a third of women involved in this study took a vitamin D supplement in pregnancy, which suggests that more needs to be done to raise awareness of its benefits. This is especially important in Scotland, where women receive lower levels of the vitamin through sunlight exposure than more southern locations. The Scottish Government's framework 'Improving Maternal and Infant Nutrition' also highlights this as a key area for improvement and we are keen to see measures in place to increase the uptake of vitamin D supplementation.

"Most women said they preferred to receive parenting information in person from a professional such a health visitor, demonstrating the importance of providing face to face support during pregnancy and the following weeks and months after the birth. We're encouraged by the current roll-out of the Family Nurse Partnership in Scotland which provides home visits to young first time mothers throughout pregnancy and until their child is two years old.

"Becoming a parent can be exciting but also overwhelming. The report showed that parenting stress was greatest for those without informal support networks. It was also identified that stress most severely affected those in both the most disadvantaged and the least advantaged socioeconomic groups.

"This finding may relate to feelings of lack of control over the events of the birth and early years of a baby. The unpredictable nature of this period can often lead to feelings of dissatisfaction while having to adapt many areas of your life. Those from the most advantaged groups may feel this change more keenly if they are used to having a high degree of control in their life. Amongst disadvantaged groups, other factors, such as financial worries, may also impact on stress levels.

"NCT knows how important informal networks are for new and expectant parents, which is why we have local branches across Scotland offering activities for new parents and peer-to-peer support."