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Childhood trauma: 'Hundreds of babies born addicted to drugs'

Figures on drug-addicted babies published, as educators grapple with issue of traumatised children

Childhood trauma: 'Hundreds of babies born addicted to drugs'

Figures on drug-addicted babies published, as educators grapple with issue of traumatised children

Since 2015, almost 600 babies have been born in Scotland addicted to drugs, figures released through a freedom of information request have revealed.

The finding will add fuel to the debate in Scottish education about the effect of “adverse childhood experiences” and how the early years of education could be changed to improve children’s lives.

Data from health boards shows that 584 infants – the equivalent of almost four per week – were delivered suffering from neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) during the period cited.

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

Health spokesman Alex Cole-Hamilton 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.

Mr Cole-Hamilton said: "If the Scottish government is committed to giving every Scottish child the best start in life, it needs to take a progressive approach to drug policy and tackle the horrendous levels of drug misuse, lifelong addictions and unnecessary deaths."

He said that funding cuts to alcohol and drug partnerships, although later overturned, had set back the support sector “massively”, adding that “these distressing statistics show just how misjudged and dangerous that decision was”.

Mr Cole-Hamilton also called for a national strategy that treated drug misuse as a health issue, and which would support people instead of criminalising and penalising them. He made his comments less than two weeks after the Scottish Parliament backed moves to raise the age of criminal responsibility in Scotland

A Scottish government spokesman said: "We are committed to giving every child the best start in life.

"Our new combined drug and alcohol strategy, publishing in the coming weeks, will focus on how services can adapt to meet the needs of those most in need – including those not ready to abstain from drug use.

"We have recently released further funding to reduce the harms caused by alcohol and drugs, bringing the total provided to more than £70 million this financial year. This is in addition to the £746m we have invested to tackle alcohol and drug use since 2008."

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