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Neonatal outcomes of pregnant women attending integrated and standard substance use treatment programs in Ontario, Canada


Background — Substance use in pregnancy raises concern given its potential teratogenic effects. Given the unique needs of parenting people and the potential impact for developing children, specialized substance use treatment programs are increasingly being implemented for this population. Substance use treatment is associated with more positive neonatal outcomes compared with no treatment, however treatment models vary limiting our understanding of key treatment components/models. Few studies have explored the influence of treatment model type (i.e., integrated treatments designed for pregnant clients compared with standard treatment models) and no studies have examined the influence of treatment model on neonatal outcomes using Canadian data.

Method — We conducted a population-based cohort study of clients who were pregnant when initiating integrated (n = 564) and standard (n = 320) substance use treatment programs in Ontario, Canada.

Results — Neonatal outcomes did not significantly differ by treatment type (integrated or standard), with rates of adverse neonatal outcomes higher than published rates for the general population, despite receipt of adequate levels of prenatal care. While this suggests no significant impact of treatment, it is notable that as a group, clients engaged in integrated treatment presented with more risk factors for adverse neonatal outcomes than those in standard treatment. While we controlled for these risks in our analyses, this may have obscured their influence in relation to treatment type.

Conclusion — Findings underscore the need for more nuanced research that considers the influence of client factors in interaction with treatment type. Pregnant clients engaged in any form of substance use treatment are at higher risk of having children who experience adverse neonatal outcomes. This underscores the urgent need for further investment in services and research to support maternal and neonatal health before and during pregnancy, as well as long-term service models that support women and children beyond the perinatal and early childhood periods.



Milligan K, Tarasoff LA, Rodrigues ER, Iwajomo T, Gomes T, de Oliveira C, Brown HK, Urbanoski KA. Birth. 2023; Nov 20 [Epub ahead of print].

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