shock figures | 

Almost 100 babies born with drug dependencies every year in Ireland

“If the baby has been getting drugs across the placenta for the whole of the pregnancy and then suddenly, when the pregnancy is over, the umbilical cord is cut, in time the baby will get the same withdrawal symptoms”
Stock image

Stock image

Neil Fetherstonhaugh

Nearly 100 babies are born in Ireland with drug dependencies due to their mothers' use of addictive drugs during pregnancy every year, it has been revealed.

The shocking new figures show that 937 babies were treated for drug withdrawal symptoms in the nine years between 2011 and 2020.

The Freedom of Information figures, released to Newstalk by the HSE, record a total of 85 in 2020.

Consultant obstetrician gynaecologist Dr Mary McCaffrey described the effects on the babies when they are born to mothers who have been taking drugs.

“If the baby has been getting drugs across the placenta for the whole of the pregnancy and then suddenly, when the pregnancy is over, the umbilical cord is cut, in time the baby will get the same withdrawal symptoms,” she said.

“They often get quite jittery, fidgety, often their feeding won’t be that good and I suppose in very extreme cases, they could have seizures.”

Dr McCaffrey said the most common drugs babies are treated for are methadone, cocaine and heroin.

She said babies get varying treatment for the condition.

“Nothing for a very mild case – just monitor the baby,” she said.

“For more severe cases, they can use medications. They might use very, very mild sedatives.”

The HSE said affected infants are followed up by the baby clinic after being discharged.

Meanwhile, the mother is followed up by the social worker, public health nursing and Tusla, as required.


Today's Headlines

More Irish News

Download the Sunday World app

Now download the free app for all the latest Sunday World News, Crime, Irish Showbiz and Sport. Available on Apple and Android devices