Pregnant mums drugs shock

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HEROIN, cocaine, and cannabis are just some of the substances that more than 1,000 mothers abused at the time of giving birth in Wigan Borough.

The shocking figures were revealed following a Freedom of Information request to Wrightington Wigan Leigh NHS Foundation Trust (WWL), and show that in the past two years, 1,052 pregnant women gave birth while suffering from drug, alcohol or tobacco addictions.

In 2010 and 2011, 31 women were addicted to opioids (pain killers), which include drugs such as heroin and other painkillers such as tramadol and codeine.

Five mothers had cannabis addictions, while others were addicted to stimulants such as amphetamines or cocaine.

The majority of addicted mothers were still smoking at the time of birth, which has risen from 480 in 2010 to 527 in 2011, which health chiefs have targeted as one of their top priorities.

A spokesperson for WWL said: “We routinely screen all women at their booking appointments. These screening tests are conducted by the Midwifery Team.

“Referrals to the team are made from a wide range of sources. These include self referral, midwives, Substance Misuse Service (which covers both drugs and alcohol) and the Children and Young People’s Service.

“The Trust has a Specialist Drug Liaison Midwife who is employed jointly by the Maternity Service and Substance Misuse Service. This post ensures very close inter-agency work between the following services:

“Maternity Services; Paediatrics; Obstetricians; Substance Misuse Service; Health Visitors; Children and Young People’s Service; Child Protection; Support Services; GPs; Smoking Cessation Service.”

Last month it was revealed that one in five Wiganers are still smoking during pregnancy.

Dr Kate Ardern, director of public health AWL PCT, said: “The evidence that smoking is harmful to both the pregnant woman and the unborn child is irrefutable. Unfortunately, most pregnant smokers become addicted to nicotine whilst they themselves are still children.

“To reduce the number of pregnant women who smoke requires a two-pronged strategy of reducing the numbers of our children who take up smoking in the first place and providing ongoing support for smokers who wish to quit.”