University of Saskatchewan Receives Over $5m: Studying Impact of Medications During Pregnancy

University of Saskatchewan Receives Over $5m Studying Impact of Medications During Pregnancy

The Canadian Mother-Child Cohort Active Surveillance Initiative (CAMCCO) was recently awarded almost $1.2 million by the Canada Foundation for Innovation plus $1.79 million from partner organizations in an effort to consolidate data from patients in Quebec, Ontario, Alberta and Saskatchewan. This ongoing real-world data study concerns the over 75% of pregnant women on medications for which the risk or benefits are unknown. This new national platform led by a researcher from University of Saskatchewan (USask) seeks to improve health outcomes for women and babies across Canada. The University of Saskatchewan received a total of $5 million (plus partner monies) to support what is purported to be the largest and most representative longitudinal data sets covering about four million pregnancies over a 25-year duration. The initial studies involved with the program center on the impact of antidepressant and prescription opioid use during pregnancy.

At USask, the study is led by Dr. Brandace Winquist, PhD, an adjunct professor in the Department of Community Health and Epidemiology within the College of Medicine. Dr. Winquist recently noted, “Medication use during pregnancy is an important public health issue. Yet not enough is known about the safety of many drugs because pregnant women are generally excluded from clinical trials.” She continued, “Research that will be done using this new platform will help to identify risks and ultimately, help to prevent harm to mothers and their children. This specific component of the broader initiative will receive $336,000 in funding the harmonized data infrastructure linking the de-identified health data of the province’s moms and their children.”

Dr. Winquist is an investigator with the Canadian Network of Observational Drug Effect Studies and heads the research in the areas of maternal and child health, health services, and population health reports the university. Winquist is an investigator in the Canadian Network of Observational Drug Effect Studies and leads research in the areas of maternal and child health, health services, and population health. She will be collaborating with a team of researchers across Canada, including principal investigator Dr. Anick Bérard from the Université de Montréal and CHU Sainte-Justine Research Centre.

Goal of the Study

As over half of pregnancies are unplanned, often to-be mothers are in effect accidentally exposed to medications because they are not aware they are pregnant. Exposure to medications also happens during planned pregnancies, either due to maternal chronic illness or acute conditions that develop during pregnancy, reports the university.  

Hence, by combining data from mothers and babies across multiple Canadian provinces, this information will help identify rare adverse effects and conditions diagnosed years after a drug is used and help inform how medications are in effect prescribed during pregnancy and childhood.

Lead Research/Investigator

Brandace Winquist, PhD, an adjunct professor in the Department of Community Health and Epidemiology within the College of Medicine at USask. She also serves as Executive Director, Academics and Learning with the Saskatchewan Health Authority. 

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