MOTHERS giving birth last year in hospitals across western Sydney were taking drugs, including heroin and ice, in the lead-up to having their baby.
Of the 1523 mothers who took drugs, a third drank alcohol or smoked marijuana, while the rest took opioids, ecstasy or painkillers.
Seven women accessed hallucinogens such as LSD, while 26 admitted to using cocaine.
The figures are contained in the latest Maternal and Child Health Register data, which shows drug use among women before having kids is rising.
More than 14,800 women gave birth in western Sydney hospitals last year.
The data showed 573 mothers admitted to drinking alcohol in the five years leading up to giving birth, with 510 taking cannabinoids.
Another 288 took stimulants such as amphetamines, including ice and ecstasy, while 287 took opioids such as heroin.
Non-opioid analgesics such as Oxycodone were used by 222 mothers, while 191 took antidepressants and antipsychotics. Sedatives and hypnotics were taken by 164 mothers, while 109 were known to use multiple drugs.
There were 14 mothers who had used solvents such as glue and aerosols.
The trend has triggered a $9 million rollout of state government funding towards breaking what Mental Health Minister Pru Goward described as “an intergenerational cycle of disadvantage” with rehabilitation and after-care services targeting western Sydney mothers.
The services aim to help women with a history of drug use over the past five years to look after their babies and continue rehabilitation.
A critical element of the program will be in helping mothers find accommodation, to avoid relapsing or ending up on the streets.
The data was compiled from hospitals across western Sydney for the year 2015, and included mothers who used drugs up until birth or had previously been known for substance abuse.
Drug use was based on a review of drug and alcohol-related hospital admissions in the five years prior to giving birth.
Ms Goward said the funding package would help addicted mothers provide a stable and drug-free environment for their babies.
“We need to break the intergenerational cycle of disadvantage and ensure the children of these mothers are given the best chance of having a bright future,” she said.
“Our drug package helps addicted mums get clean and provide a stable, drug-free environment for their children.
“Children deserve to grow up in a drug free home which was why western Sydney was getting additional support.”
This piece was first published on ‘The Daily Telegraph’ on January 15 2017.