There has been a call for action amid concerns over the number of babies born dependent on substances.

A new report has revealed 201 such births have taken place in the NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (NHSGGC) area since 2017/18.

Babies born with neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) show signs of addiction because of their mother’s misuse of legal or illegal drugs during pregnancy.

Figures obtained through Freedom of Information legislation reveal 1,363 babies have been born with the condition in Scotland since 2017/18.

Symptoms of NAS, caused by blood passing from the mother to her foetus during pregnancy, include hyperactivity, blotchy skin and high-pitch crying.

The Scottish Liberal Democrats have urged the Scottish Government to improve alcohol and drug services in an effort to tackle the problem.

“Drug deaths make the headlines but, in a host of other ways, drug misuse can make lives a misery,” said party leader Alex Cole-Hamilton.

“There is perhaps no more awful start in life for a newborn baby than to be born dependent on drugs.

“The Scottish Government need to shoulder some of the blame. The cuts they delivered meant drug and alcohol services closed their doors and valuable expertise was lost.

“I don’t want to see future generations still struggling with drug misuse. That’s why Scottish Liberal Democrats are committed to investing in local services which are best placed to intervene to stop lives from being lost and new lives starting dependent on substances.”

In response, Minister for Drug Policy Elena Whitham said: “No baby should be born dependent on substances and mothers should be able to get the help they need, free from judgement and stigma.

"We are increasing investment in local services and providing support to women and families as part of our National Mission, backed by £250million, to tackle the drug deaths emergency.

“Funding for drug policy has increased by 67% in real terms from 2014/15 to 2023/24, according to Audit Scotland figures. This includes direct funding of £3million per year to support families, as well as £3.5million additional funding for services to provide support through the Whole Family Framework launched in December 2021.

“We are also committed to preventing the harm caused by alcohol consumption during pregnancy, of which there is no safe level, and to supporting those impacted by fetal alcohol spectrum disorder.”

Bosses at NHSGGC said its NAS figures are better than other Scottish health boards when population size is taken into consideration.

A spokesperson added: "NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde is committed to providing the highest possible quality of care to all mothers and their babies and we have a range of specialist services to care for babies with particular needs, including NAS.

"Women with substance misuse in pregnancy are assessed and, where required, additional care and support is provided by multi-disciplinary teams, which include the Blossom Midwifery Team, obstetricians linked to Blossom midwives and addiction services.

"Individual care packages will be dependent on the woman’s needs and overseen by the multi-disciplinary teams.

"Babies born at risk of NAS are monitored alongside their mothers in the postnatal period and, if necessary, receive treatment under the guidance of our neonatology teams.

"Following discharge from our hospitals, women and babies will continue to receive support from the relevant health and social care services, dependant on their individual needs."