According to figures that have been released by the NHS, a staggering four babies are born with a drug addiction every single day in the UK.
It may seem unbelievable that a newborn baby could be addicted to heavy drugs such as heroin and crack cocaine, but frequently exhibiting neonatal withdrawal symptoms within just a few hours of being born means that doctors are being forced to recommend opiates in order to wean them off the drugs.
Since 2009, 7,800 babies have entered the world hooked on drugs as their addicted mothers continued to use throughout their pregnancy. 464 of these babies were born in Wales, 738 in Scotland and 6,599 in England.
Christian Guy, Director of the Centre for Social Justice, think tank, has said:
“The innocent babies born into the trauma of addiction every year are being given a tragic start to life. It demonstrates that addiction is not just about individual choice - it affects children, families and communities.”
Medical experts have described the findings as “horrific” and have emphasised an immediate need for specialist medics to help addicted mothers-to-be. It is thought that if pregnant women with drug problems are identified immediately and counselling is provided for them on how to stay off the drugs during their pregnancy, then it could dramatically help to reduce the number of babies being born with a drug addiction.
Vivienne Evans, Chief Executive of family support charity, Adfam, has highlighted that in order for drug rehabilitation to work effectively, it is vital that pregnant women are first assured that they will not be mistreated, stigmatised or have their baby taken away from them once it is born.
Unfortunately, if a woman doesn’t disclose her addiction then there isn’t a lot that midwives or medical professionals can do. However, if they’re encouraged to come forward rest assured that they will be in safe and comforting hands, then there is professional help available for both themselves and their baby.
To learn more about drug addiction or if you are concerned about yourself or someone you know, feel free to visit the Life Works Drug Addiction Treatment and Rehabilitation programme page. To learn more about drug addiction, check out our Drug Addiction Knowledge Centre.