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Prenatal opioid exposure and neonatal abstinence syndrome: a research project with 13 First Nations communities in Ontario


Canada has been significantly impacted by the global opioid crisis, and Indigenous communities have raised concerns regarding opioid-related harm and deaths, including those affecting pregnant women and youth. For First Nations communities, opioid addiction is often the result of individual, collective, and intergenerational trauma, and those same communities hold the knowledge and solutions to support intergenerational healing.

This research project was initiated in response to concerns raised by several First Nations communities in the lower half of Ontario about the health of school-age children exposed to opioids prenatally. A research team was formed, which included First Nations and non-Indigenous team members with expertise in working with First Nations communities, child and maternal health, mental health and addictions, and community-engaged health research.

Thirteen First Nations communities participated in this project. By working with the project team, participating First Nations communities aimed to learn more about the impact of prenatal opioid exposure on children, mothers, families and caregivers, service providers and educators, and the community at large – within each First Nation and across all participating First Nations.



Kerpan ST, Mazzucco A, Naponse-Corbiere P, Poulette C-A, Sault DK, Johnson BL, Chiu M, Deb B, Campitelli M, Rashid M, Iqbal J, Gustafson M, Walker JD, Guttmann A. Toronto, ON: ICES; October 2023.

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