Map of Simcoe Muskoka

Pregnancy and Before

Drug Exposures During Pregnancy

By Maternal Age
Any Drug and/or Alcohol Use

Drug use during pregnancy can lead to fetal growth restrictions, such as reduced length, head circumference and birth weight, and medical complications including preterm birth and infections.

Infants born to chronic opioid users are frequently born with a dependency to these drugs and experience withdrawal following birth. The resulting effects are known as neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS), which has negative impacts on feeding, elimination and sleeping. Recent Ontario estimates suggest that 0.4% of infants are born with NAS.

According to the 2011/2012 Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS), 15.8% (11.8%, 20.9%) of reproductive aged (15-49 years) women in Simcoe Muskoka report past year illicit drug use, excluding one-time cannabis use. This is similar to the provincial average of 12.3% (11.3%, 13.3%).


According to Ontario’s Better Outcomes Registry & Network (BORN), in 2016, 185 (3.6% (3.1%, 4.1%)) new mothers in Simcoe Muskoka reported using one or more drugs (not including alcohol) during pregnancy. Of the mothers that used one or more drugs during pregnancy, the most commonly reported was marijuana (85.4%). Cocaine and opioids were also used by 7.6%, and 12.4%, respectively, of mothers who reported substance use during pregnancy.

The proportion of new mothers in Simcoe Muskoka who report using one or more drugs during pregnancy was significantly higher than the provincial average of 2.2% (2.1%, 2.3%).


​The proportion of new mothers in Simcoe Muskoka who reported drug use during their last pregnancy varied from year to year, but did not significantly change from 2013 to 2016. A small but significant increase in the overall proportion of mothers in Ontario who reported drug use during their lpast pregnancy was observed, from 1.9% (1.8%, 2.0%) in 2013 to 2.2% (2.1%, 2.3%) in 2016.  The proportion of women who reported drug use during pregnancy in Simcoe Muskoka remained higher than the provincial rate across the time period.  


By Maternal Age

Young new mothers were the most likely to report using drugs during pregnancy, with 9.6% (7.7%, 11.9%) of new mothers aged 15 – 24 years reporting drug use in 2016. Drug use during pregnancy was significantly less common among older new mothers, with 2.8% (2.2%, 3.4%) of new mothers aged 25-34 years and 1.4% (0.8%, 2.4%) of new mothers aged 35-49 years reporting drug use during pregnancy.


Any Drug and/or Alcohol Use

Overall, 6.2% (5.6%, 6.9%) of new mothers in Simcoe Muskoka reported the use of any drugs or alcohol during pregnancy in 2016. Compared to the 3.6% of mothers who reported drug use, and the 3.2% of mothers who reported alcohol use, this suggests that drug use and alcohol use during pregnancy are not occurring in overlapping populations. While drug and/or alcohol use remains more common among younger mothers, these results suggest that there may be different risk factors which affect the likeliness of women to use drugs and alcohol during their pregnancies. This also indicates that there is a need for separate interventions to reduce the frequency with which both drugs and alcohol are used among pregnant women.