Scottish Liberal Democrat health spokesperson Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP has today said that the argument to restore funding to drug and alcohol services has never been greater after new figures revealed over 700 babies born dependent on substances.
Statistics compiled by the Scottish Liberal Democrats through a freedom of information requests show that in the last five years 729 babies were born with neonatal abstinence synrdrome (NAS) - showing signs of drug addiction because of their mother taking legal or illegal drugs during pregnancy.
The symptoms of NAS, caused by almost every drug passing from the mother to her foetus's blood stream during pregnancy, include unctonrollable trembling, hyperactivity, blotchy skin and high-pitch crying.
Commenting, Mr Cole-Hamilton said:
“These figures are utterly heart-breaking. To think that a new born baby is having to start life in rehab is beyond imagination. What makes it worse is that each case is tragedy that could have been avoided.
“The Scottish Government has slashed funding to drug and alcohol partnerships by more than 20%. Valuable local facilities have shut their doors. The number of drug-related deaths has spiralled to its highest ever level. The argument against these cuts is even clearer now than it ever has been.
"The drug problem in Scotland needs to be tackled head on. As today's figures show, future generations are counting on us to act.
“The very same services that have been axed are the ones that are best placed to intervene and help avoid lives from being lost and new lives starting dependent on substances. That’s why Scottish Liberal Democrats would restore funding to drug and alcohol services, reform the failing existing drug law enforcement strategies and treat drug misuse as a health issue. This would ensure help is there for people when they need it and give more children a better start in life."