NSPCC charity warns of babies at risk in Scotland

image captionThe NSPCC said the risk to babies was accompanied by drink, drug and mental health problems

A charity has claimed that babies in Scotland are 12 times more likely to be abused or killed than older children.

NSPCC has called on the Scottish government to ensure that babies are better protected.

It said the increased risk to babies was more pronounced in Scotland than elsewhere in the UK.

Babies were most likely to be harmed when parents have drink, drugs or mental health problems, or there was a history of domestic violence.

Over the past 10 years, there have been 27 cases of infant homicide.

Risk factors

The Scottish government said it was investing in early years work and that it would meet the NSPCC to discuss these issues.

The charity estimated there were 12,354 babies in Scotland with a parent or carer who was at high risk of suffering from depression or serious anxiety.

In addition, it said there may be 950 babies with mothers who drink hazardous amounts of alcohol while as many as 4,752 babies could be living in families where either their father or their mother's partner drinks too much.

The NSPCC also estimated 1,307 mothers of babies had reported that their current partner had used force against them.

More than 50% of all calls to the NSPCC's helpline involve concerns about children in families with these problems.

NSPCC spokeswoman Joanna Barrett told BBC Radio's Good Morning Scotland programme: "At a time when we consider babies to be most cared for and focused upon they're actually at the highest risk of abuse or neglect.

"Babies are 12-times more likely to be killed in babyhood that at any other age.

"So we really want to shine a light on this increased vulnerability and ask for the Scottish government, professionals and the general public to get behind our All Babies Count campaign."

A Scottish government spokesman said: "The Scottish government absolutely agrees with the NSPCC that it's crucial to 'ensure that all babies count'.

"As part of this we've made a decisive commitment to investing in the early years by contributing £50m over the next four years towards the £270m Early Years Change Fund and by supporting relevant charities and voluntary bodies through the £6.8m Early Years Early Action Fund."

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