Scottish Liberal Democrat health spokesperson Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP has demanded the Scottish Government embrace “progressive” new drug policies after new figures revealed almost 600 babies have been born dependent on substances since 2015.
Statistics compiled by the Scottish Liberal Democrats through freedom of information requests show the number of babies born with neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) was 203 in 2015/16, 190 in 2016/17 and 191 in 2017/18.
The symptoms of NAS, caused by drugs passing from the mother to the foetus during pregnancy, include uncontrollable trembling, hyperactivity, blotchy skin and high-pitch crying.
Mr 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.
"This can be avoided with the right combination of policies and support to help those misusing drugs, protecting them and future generations.
“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, life-long addictions and unnecessary deaths.
“Alcohol and drug partnerships were set back massively by the Scottish Government’s brutal £20m funding cuts. It was rightly overturned two years later but the sector is still in recovery, local facilities are depleted and these distressing statistics show just how misjudged and dangerous that decision was. It can’t happen again.
"We also need a new national strategy that is finally focused on treating drug misuse as a health issue, supporting people instead of criminalising and penalising them."