EXCLUSIVE: NAS – neonatal abstinence syndrome – affects babies whose mothers have abused drugs during pregnancy, leaving their babies to go cold turkey after birth. 22:26, 28 JUL 2018
Three babies a day are having treatment for drug addiction after being born hooked on heroin or cocaine.
Shock figures from NHS Digital show hospitals dealt with 5,000 cases of addicted tots over the last four years.
NAS – neonatal abstinence syndrome – affects babies whose mums have abused drugs during pregnancy.
When the umbilical cord is cut, the supply of drugs suddenly stops, so the addicted infant goes cold turkey.
Typical symptoms include high-pitched or incessant crying, tremors, vomiting and sweating.
But babies can also suffer dehydration, diarrhoea, fevers and even seizures.
Some may need medication to treat severe withdrawal symptoms, usually from the same family of drugs as the substance that the baby is addicted to.
Once the signs of withdrawal are controlled, the dosage is gradually decreased to help wean the baby off the drug.
Figures from the NHS show the problem is countrywide.
“Yet none of the women we support wanted to end up in this position. Most are victims of childhood sexual trauma and domestic violence.
“The shame and guilt they feel is huge. But all they need is help and support to break the cycle.
“A mum might come to us on baby four or five. Her previous children have all been taken into care.
“By getting her through treatment, addressing her underlying issues and enabling her to keep her child, we break that cycle of repeat removal.”