New figures have revealed more than a dozen babies were born addicted to drugs in Dundee this year.
The statistics, which were obtained via a freedom of information request, show that 13 babies were admitted to the neonatal unit at Ninewells Hospital suffering from neonatal abstinence syndrome.
The condition occurs when babies suffer from narcotic withdrawal, which can be caused when mothers take drugs during pregnancy.
Once the umbilical cord is cut, the baby’s supply of the drug will stop and the child starts to go through withdrawal.
Kathryn Baker, chief executive of Tayside Council on Alcohol, believes more services are required to help women deal with their substance issues while pregnant.
She said: “These women are not making a rational, conscious choice. These are women who are really struggling with a lot of complex issues.
“I think what we need to work on is providing more services which are accessible to women who have complex needs.
“I think it is really important that in our community and society we move away from finger pointing and blame.
“People need to understand that individuals of both genders don’t set out to become addicted to alcohol or other drugs, nor do they set out to expose their children to the harm caused by substance misuse. It creeps up on you and is often connected to life experiences.”
The number of babies born addicted to drugs is down on last year’s figure of 19. In 2016 there were 12 recorded instances of babies suffering from withdrawals, and 22 in 2015.
NHS Tayside’s chief midwife Justine Craig said: “Mums-to-be who are identified as misusing substances or are on methadone replacement therapy follow a dedicated antenatal pathway in addition to their routine 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 mum and baby.”