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Smoking tobacco, drinking alcohol, or using illicit or inappropriate drugs during pregnancy can have severe impacts on the health of the mother and unborn child. The use of these substances during pregnancy can cause a range of illnesses, including fetal growth restrictions, miscarriage, preterm birth, fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, sudden infant death syndrome, and behavioural disorders in childhood.

The Better Outcomes Registry and Network (BORN) information system was launched in Ontario in 2012 and it captures data for all hospital births and all home births attended by a midwife. This report uses self-reported substance use data from BORN and hospitalization data (confirmed medical diagnoses) to provide an overview of tobacco (smoking), alcohol, and drug (illicit drugs or inappropriate drugs/substances) use during pregnancy for Windsor-Essex County (WEC).

Key Findings:

  • 8.8% of expecting mothers from WEC smoked tobacco during pregnancy which is significantly greater than the provincial average of 7.4%.
  • 1.8% of expecting mothers in WEC drank alcohol during pregnancy which is lower than Ontario (2.4%). Nearly three-quarters (73.5%) of alcohol use during pregnancy occurred before the pregnancy was confirmed or known.
  • 1.9% of expecting mothers in WEC used illicit or inappropriate drugs during pregnancy; the most commonly used drugs were marijuana, opioids, and cocaine. In 2015, the rate of opioid use during pregnancy was 48.9% greater in WEC compared to Ontario.
  • The rates of tobacco, alcohol, and drug use during pregnancy were highest among teenage mothers; the use of these substances decreased as the age of the expecting mother increased.
  • In 2015, there were 68 hospitalizations of infants affected by maternal drug addiction in WEC; this rate has increased by 842.1% in WEC between 2003 and 2015 and is 2.2-times greater than Ontario.


View the full report (PDF)

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