OTTAWA, Nov. 4, 2013 /CNW/ - Today, at its biennial Issues of Substance conference, the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse (CCSA) released the
2013 Substance Abuse in Canada report, Licit and Illicit Drug Use during Pregnancy: Maternal, Neonatal and
Early Childhood Consequences.
Authored by renowned expert Dr. Loretta Finnegan, the report outlines
the unique harms of substance use for women in general and pregnant
women in particular. It aims to raise awareness amongst healthcare
providers, so they will explore these issues with their patients and
provide unbiased, compassionate information to women of childbearing
age and their partners.
Data from the 2008 Canadian Perinatal Health Report reveal that 13% of
pregnant Canadian women report past-month smoking of cigarettes, 11%
report past-month consumption of alcohol and 5% report using drugs
while pregnant. Furthermore, in Ontario, the number of reported cases
of neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) rose from 171 cases in 2003 to
564 cases in 2010—almost a four-fold increase.
The use of licit and illicit drugs during pregnancy can lead to medical
complications for both the mother and child. Post-birth, healthcare
providers observe issues such as NAS, fetal alcohol spectrum disorder
(FASD) and other developmental, cognitive and attention difficulties.
"This report provides foundational information that will inform
research, policy and practice related to substance use in the Canadian
context," said Dr. Jocelynn Cook, Executive Director of the Canada FASD
Research Network (CanFASD). "Thinking about the unique impacts of
substance use on women, including FASD, is critical."
In suggesting strategies and solutions, the report notes that pregnancy
can be a time during which a woman might be motivated to address her
substance use and that effective treatments would take into account the
neurobiological and psychosocial underpinnings to addiction. Treatment
should be comprehensive and encompass a continuum of support services
that includes counselling, as well as medication-assisted treatment,
parenting resources, housing, employment and transportation.
The report also points to the stigmatization of those who use drugs as a
significant barrier to pregnant women accessing treatment.
"Women in the greatest need—arising in part from a dependency on illicit
drugs—often have limited options for the long-term care they require,"
says Dr. Anthony Phillips, Scientific Director of the CIHR Institute of
Neurosciences, Mental Health and Addiction. "This research sheds light
on the many health and social challenges surrounding this issue, and
encourages a more integrated approach to addressing substance use in
In the Call to Action that concludes the report, CCSA lays out a number
of recommendations, including:
Ensuring healthcare providers have accurate information about the risks
of substance use during pregnancy and concrete approaches for reducing
Engaging family and community supports in treatment, so interventions
address all factors related to women and substance use;
Enhancing understanding of medication-assisted treatment for women while
pregnant, as well as implications for the newborn;
Addressing as a society the stigma associated with substance use in
general—and in particular substance use during pregnancy and while
parenting—by recognizing the neurological context of addiction; and
Encouraging further research on factors related to substance use during
pregnancy, such as ethnicity, income and geography, to better tailor
services to women and their children.
"CCSA is enormously grateful for Dr. Finnegan's efforts in shedding more
light on this important issue," said Rita Notarandrea, CCSA's Deputy
Chief Executive Officer. "In addition, this report would not have been
possible without the work of Dr. Phillips and Dr. Dan Goldowitz in
writing the report's Foreword, and Dr. Colleen Dell and Dr. Franco
Vaccarino, who developed the Call to Action."
Today's release also lays the foundation for the second report of this
Substance Abuse in Canada instalment, which will focus on how early
experiences and influences in childhood and adolescence can affect
later life substance use and dependence. The second report, due to be
released in spring 2014, will also discuss implications for prevention
and treatment, and will feature a call to action to address these
For more information on the full report or to view the Report in Short,
please visit the section of the CCSA website on the Substance Abuse in Canada series.
Media enquiries should be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse changes lives by bringing people
and knowledge together to reduce the harm of alcohol and other drugs on
society. We partner with public, private and non-governmental
organizations to improve the health and safety of Canadians.
CCSA activities and products are made possible through a financial
contribution from Health Canada. The views of CCSA do not necessarily
represent the views of the Government of Canada.
SOURCE: Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse
For further information:
Senior Advisor, Public Affairs, CCSA