Airdrie & Coatbridge Advertiser
Babies born with addiction issues
More than 30 babies born in Lanarkshire in the last four years were suffering from addiction issues at birth,“heartbreaking” new figures have revealed.
Since 2017, 33 babies were found to have neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS), showing signs of drug addiction because of their mother taking legal or illegal drugs during pregnancy.
The total is likely to be even higher, as NHS Lanarkshire was unable to provide stats for the whole of last year.
The symptoms of NAS, caused by drugs passing from the mother to her foetus’ blood stream during pregnancy, include uncontrollable trembling, hyperactivity, blotchy skin and high-pitch crying.
For 2017/2018 and 2018/2019 there were six cases in each calendar year, rising to nine for 2019/2020 and 12 for 2020/2021.
In total, there were at least 852 cases across the whole of Scotland in the same time period, with the figure almost certainly higher as NHS Fife did not provide any statistics.
The Scottish Liberal Democrats leader Alex Colehamilton, who is also the party’s health spokesperson, said the figures show the need for further investment to combat drug addiction and help recovery.
He said: “The figures are utterly heartbreaking. It is hard to think of a worse possible start in life for a new-born baby to have to endure.
“In 2016, the Scottish Government slashed funding to drug and alcohol partnerships by more than 20 per cent. Valuable local facilities shut their doors and expertise was lost, which has proved hard to replace.
“Scotland now has its highest ever number of drugrelated deaths. The Scottish Government has belatedly begun to repair that damage but there is so much more to do.
“It is time for radical action, not just to help people struggling with drug misuse today but for future generations too. That means investing in local services which are best placed to intervene to stop lives from being lost and new lives starting dependent on substances.
“Drug misuse should always be treated as a health issue, not a criminal justice matter. Anything else will condemn many more children to be born into these awful circumstances.”
A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “Increasing investment in local services and providing support to women and families are central to the public health approach being taken in Scotland through our national mission to tackle the drug deaths emergency.
“The national mission is backed up with an additional £250 million to improve and increase access to treatment and recovery services for people affected by problem drug use.
“This government has also agreed in principle to fund a national specialist residential family service which will be run by the charity and housing association, Phoenix Futures, and based in Saltcoats, to support parents along with their children.”