More than a dozen babies born addicted to drugs in Tayside

Sixteen babies were born already addicted to drugs in Tayside in the last 12 months, new figures have revealed.

The stats provided to the Tele show the babies were born with neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) between November 1 2016 and November 1 2017.

NAS affects babies born to mothers using drugs and can occur when parents have used illegal substances such as heroin during pregnancy.

As the baby receives drugs into the bloodstream, and the umbilical cord is cut, the baby’s supply of the drug stops abruptly.

The baby will then go through signs of withdrawal just as an adult addict would.

Symptoms include a high-pitched cry, shaking or tremors, vomiting, excessive sweating and in some cases fits.

NHS Tayside’s chief midwife Justine Craig said: “Women who are identified as misusing substances or are on methadone replacement therapy follow a dedicated antenatal pathway in addition to their usual antenatal care to provide appropriate support through pregnancy.

“Some women receive additional support from a specialist midwife, working alongside teams and other agencies with the aim of producing the best outcome for the woman and baby.

“The neonatal team will be advised in advance that an infant with potential for neonatal abstinence syndrome is due and once born the baby will be closely monitored for signs of NAS.

“Babies with withdrawal symptoms who require medication are admitted to the neonatal unit and will be treated to control the symptoms of NAS.

“Where appropriate the mum and baby will be admitted together to the neonatal transitional care area to receive continued support.

“However, many babies with mild symptoms respond well to supportive care such as comforting and will not necessarily need admission.”

Manager of Dundee-based Addaction Dundee David Barrie said: “Any baby born with issues surrounding substance abuse is not great.

“However, there are a lot of support services which can be put in place to support the mother, baby and wider family.

“These support and healthcare services ensure that the newborn should grow, thrive and live a fulfilled life.”