Babies Born Addicted to Drugs – What Help is Out There?


NHS figures have shown that over 20 babies are born every week who are addicted to drugs in England. This would mean around 1,000 babies are born to mothers every year that are addicted to drugs. These figures are shocking and disturbing, begging the question, what is being done to help these women whilst they are drug dependent and pregnant?

Baby in a cot

New Borns Going "Cold Turkey"

Babies are being born addicted to heroin, crack cocaine and other severely dangerous drugs and as a result, neonatal withdrawal symptoms are up 11% since 2010.

Over the past 10 years, 10,000 new borns have been put into "cold turkey" suffering from diarrhoea, vomiting and violent fits to wean them off the substances they were born addicted to. The figures also include babies addicted to methadone, a heroin substitute given to people who are dependent, to get them off the illegal substance.

Alex Bughart, Centre for Social Justice policy director (founded by Iain Duncan-Smith) made comments that, "methadone has a place in helping addicts" however, some people spend too long on the substance and are "parked on it and forgotten". The NHS is weaning these poor children off substances that were given to their mothers by the State to try and fight off the horrors of addiction.

Instead of getting the best start, these children are getting the worst. Long has the drug policy of the government been criticised as not being ambitious enough, and now we have examples of where it is leaving vulnerable, drug dependent mothers without clear and focused help.

Clare Linden, child care lawyer and Partner at Simpson Millar LLP observes:

"In recent years I have represented a number of parents in care proceedings who have been addicted to drugs and whose children have consequently been born addicted to drugs. Often these parents can't imagine a life without drugs and it is important that they are directed to drugs services local to them to help address their difficulties and are supported in this by their legal team. At Simpson Millar LLP we have links with a number of local and national organisations that assist parents with drug and alcohol issues."

We recognise how important it is for children to be brought up by their birth parents where possible. To achieve this aim we must be able to satisfy a Court that a parent is committed to tackling issues with drug misuse and that they can prioritise their child's needs above their own.

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