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Study Overview

Why is this study being done?

The placenta is an organ that develops in your uterus during pregnancy.  It connects you and your baby through the umbilical cord. It provides the oxygen and nutrients that your baby needs to grow.
Substances used during pregnancy may change the way that the placenta develops. Some substances can cause the placenta to be small. Some can cause the placenta to have fewer blood vessels. Some can change the way that nutrients or oxygen are delivered to your baby.
For many substances we don’t know if they cause changes. We also don’t know if any of these possible changes to the placenta will affect the way your baby develops.

Pregnancy Checkup

What substances are we interested in studying?

The substances we want to study include:

  • Opioids – such as oxycodone, fentanyl, Vicodin, and morphine

  • Opioid agonist therapies- such as methadone and buprenorphine

  • Cannabis- all forms including smoking, vaping, ingesting, etc.

  • Nicotine– all forms including smoking, vaping and nicotine replacement therapies


We are interested in examining the effects of these substances when used by themselves during pregnancy, when multiple types of substances are used during pregnancy, and when no substances are used during pregnancy.

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How many people will take part in this study and where will they be recruited from?

We hope to recruit 546 people to take part in this study. Recruitment of pregnant individuals will take place at 5 different research study sites located in Ontario, Canada.

  • Ottawa: The Ottawa Hospital, Ottawa

  • Kingston: Kingston General Hospital

  • Toronto: St. Mikes Hospital

  • London: London Health Sciences Centre

  • Hamilton: Hamilton Health Sciences Centre


If you will be receiving prenatal care through any of these sites and are interested in taking part in the study please contact the study team or speak to your health care provider.


We hope to complete this study over the next 3 years, and the results should be known in about 4 years.  

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What are peer researchers?

This study has been developed in collaboration with peer researchers who have lived experience of substance use in pregnancy. Our goal is to approach this work in an empathetic, non-judgmental, trauma informed, and anti-oppressive way. Ultimately, we wish to support people in their choices and lives. Our peer researchers have reviewed and will review every step of the project, ensuring that our approach and methods are appropriate. They will review all results before anything is presented or published. They will ensure that results are presented sensitively and in a manner that is relevant to the study participants.

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