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School alert on teenage mums

MINISTERS want tough action on teenage pregnancies, smoking and drinking among 12-15s and poor dental standards in children aged under five.

Only one in three teenagers takes regular vigorous exercise at least four times a week and this should be raised to one in two within 10 years under targets for a healthier Scotland spelt out in the White Paper on health.

The strategy emphasises, published on Wednesday, the importance of the pound;26 million programme for 60 new community schools as education is handed a central role in countering the country's poor health record.

Families with children are a special target and ministers say much has already been done to improve educational opportunities and life prospects. Pre-school education linked to accessible and affordable child care will lay the basis of better chances for disadvantaged families.

Smoking is among the key targets, but forthcoming research from Edinburgh University is likely to show ministers will have a tough job. Up to 24 per cent of 15-year-old girls smoke daily and 19 per cent of boys.

Other key aims are to cut teenage pregnancies among girls aged 13-15 by 20 per cent and ensure that 60 per cent of five-year-olds are free of dental disease. Surveys have shown that the poorest 10 per cent of children account for more than half of tooth decay.

Ministers want the Health Education Board for Scotland to establish a specialist schools unit and tackle the concerns highlighted in the paper. The concept of the health-promoting school is given an additional boost.

One of four key projects, billed as "test beds for action", will focus on teenagers' sexual behaviour. It will aim to cut teenage pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases and encourage responsible attitudes to sex.

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