Substance Use in Pregnancy Among Vulnerable Women Seeking Addiction and Parenting Support

  • Kiri A. Latuskie
  • Tom Leibson
  • Naomi C. Z. Andrews
  • Mary MotzEmail author
  • Debra J. Pepler
  • Shinya ItoEmail author
Original Article


Substance use during pregnancy is associated with obstetrical and fetal complications. Though use of some substances is discontinued during pregnancy, use of others persists. Our goal was to characterize substance-specific use and patterns of use throughout pregnancy among vulnerable women who attended an early intervention program for women with substance use issues. Through retrospective analyses of client records (1995–2016; N = 470), results indicated that the greatest number of women continued use of tobacco and cannabis for the duration of pregnancy (n = 232; 84.4% and n = 102; 60.0%, respectively), while the proportion of women continuing opioid use was relatively high (n = 33; 57.9%). Relapse rates were high for women who initially attempted to discontinue use of cocaine, crack cocaine, and heroin. Results can inform intervention and treatment by indicating which substances are more difficult to discontinue, as well as substances associated with high rates of relapse.


Pregnancy Substance use Polysubstance use Prevalence Women 



The authors would like to thank Prateek Lala for his very helpful revisions and suggestions early on in the production of this work.


This work was supported by the Division of Clinical Pharmacology and Toxicology, the Hospital for Sick Children as well as Mothercraft, Early Intervention Department.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Ethics approval was obtained from the research ethics board at the Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Canada.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare that they have no potential conflicts of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kiri A. Latuskie
    • 1
    • 2
  • Tom Leibson
    • 2
  • Naomi C. Z. Andrews
    • 3
    • 4
  • Mary Motz
    • 4
    Email author
  • Debra J. Pepler
    • 3
  • Shinya Ito
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.Leslie Dan Faculty of PharmacyUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada
  2. 2.Division of Clinical Pharmacology and ToxicologyHospital for Sick ChildrenTorontoCanada
  3. 3.Department of PsychologyYork UniversityTorontoCanada
  4. 4.Early Intervention DepartmentMothercraftTorontoCanada

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