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'Heartbreaking' stats reveal toll of babies born in Forth Valley addicted to drugs

Daily Record logo Daily Record 12/01/2022 Stuart McFarlane

Figures have revealed that more than 20 babies were born addicted to drugs across the Forth Valley since 2017.

The statistics, acquired via a Freedom of Information request, reports the number of children born with a condition known as neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS).

This is caused by substances taken by the mother passing through the body and being absorbed by the baby themselves, leading to the child becoming dependent on these drugs before being born.

It means that babies can experience withdrawal symptoms and effects when the umbilical cord is cut from the mother, potentially requiring more specialist care as they withdraw in more serious cases.

The symptoms in these cases can include uncontrollable trembling, hyperactivity, blotchy skin and high-pitch crying.

The FOI data reveals a total of 852 cases of NAS were reported in Scotland from 2017 to 2021, with 21 of these in Forth Valley.

More than half of these reported cases - 434 - were recorded in the Lothian region with 143 in Greater Glasgow and Clyde and 118 in Grampian.

Scottish Lib Dem health spokesman Alex Cole-Hamilton called for great investment in drug and alcohol services to help get on top of the issue.

Mr Cole-Hamilton said: “These figures are utterly heartbreaking. It is hard to think of a worse possible start in life for a newborn 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 drug-related 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.”

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