Four ba­bies a week born hooked on drugs

The Herald on Sunday - - NEWS FOCUS -

AL­MOST 600 ba­bies have been born ad­dicted to drugs in Scot­land since 2015, fig­ures re­leased us­ing Free­dom of In­for­ma­tion laws have re­vealed.

Data from health boards showed 584 in­fants – the equiv­a­lent of al­most four a week – were de­liv­ered suf­fer­ing from neona­tal ab­sti­nence syn­drome (NAS) over the pe­riod.

The Lib­eral Democrats, who ob­tained the fig­ures, said they showed why Scot­land needed to have a “more pro­gres­sive” pol­icy for deal­ing with drug abuse.

Health spokesman Alex ColeHamil­ton said: “On av­er­age, a baby is born ev­ery other day in Scot­land ad­dicted to harm­ful sub­stances. These are ter­ri­ble cir­cum­stances un­der which to take your first breath.”

Ba­bies born with NAS, which is caused by drugs pass­ing from the mother to her un­born child dur­ing preg­nancy, can suf­fer from a range of symp­toms, in­clud­ing un­con­trol­lable trem­bling, hy­per­ac­tiv­ity and high-pitched cry­ing.

The num­ber of in­fants recorded as be­ing af­fected by this fluc­tu­ated from 2013 in 2015-16 to 190 in 2016-17 and 191 in 2017-18.

The prob­lem was worst in the Greater Glas­gow and Clyde area, with 178 in­fants born ad­dicted to drugs over the three years.

Mean­while, there were 120 such births in the Grampian re­gion over this pe­riod, and 63 in NHS Loth­ian be­tween 2015 and 2017 – hav­ing only pro­vided data for that pe­riod.

NHS Tay­side gave fig­ures for births in the cal­en­dar years 2015, 2016 and 2017, with the num­ber of in­fants born ad­dicted to­talling 61 over this pe­riod.

Mr Cole-Hamil­ton said the prob­lem of hav­ing ba­bies born al­ready hooked on drugs could “be avoided with the right com­bi­na­tion of poli­cies and sup­port to help those mis­us­ing drugs”.

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