Nearly 50 babies were born with addiction problems in Glasgow hospitals in the last year according to official figures.

The statistics form Greater Glasgow and Clyde Health board show there were 46 babies born with neonatal abstinence syndrome in 2020/21.

It is almost double the number the previous year when there were 27 born with the condition. But numbers fluctuate and there were 42 two years previous to that in 2017/18.

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The figures were obtained by the Scottish Liberal Democrats who discovered there were 173 cases across Scotland were a newborns needed treatment for neonatal abstinence syndrome.

The area with the highest number was Lothian with 434 babies needing treatment since 2017, more than half the Scottish total of 852 cases.

In Greater Glasgow and Clyde the total was 143.

Health board published guidance states: “Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS) is a constellation of symptoms occurring in a baby as a result of withdrawal from physically addictive substances taken by the mother.

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“These substances include (but not exclusively) methadone and other opioids, heroin, benzodiazepines, cocaine and amphetamines as well as caffeine, nicotine and some antidepressant agents. Almost all opioid dependent mothers smoke in pregnancy, and a significant number probably also consume excess significant amounts of alcohol in pregnancy. The majority of infants with NAS in the West of Scotland will be withdrawing from opioids or benzodiazepines; it is not know if, or by how much nicotine and/or alcohol withdrawal also play a part.”

Alex Cole-Hamilton, the Lib Dem leader said it was more proof that additional funding is needed for drug and alcohol services.

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He said: “There figures are utterly heartbreaking. It is hard to think of a worse possible start in life for a new-born baby to have to endure.

“In 2016, the Scottish Government slashed funding to drug and alcohol partnerships by more than 20%. Valuable local facilities shut their doors and expertise was lost which has proved hard to replace.

“Scotland now has its highest ever number of drug-related deaths. The Scottish Government has belatedly begun to repair that damage but there is so much more to do.

“It is time for radical action, not just to help people struggling with drug misuse today but for future generations too.”

He said the babies show signs of drug addiction because of their mother taking legal or illegal drugs during pregnancy.

Mr Cole-Hamilton added: “Drug misuse should always be treated as a health issue, not a criminal justice matter.

“Anything else will condemn many more children to be born into these awful circumstances.”