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More babies born with addictions in the north: report

A new report paints an alarming picture of the number of babies born with neonatal abstinence syndrome in northern Ontario. The syndrome can occur in babies of mothers who were addicted to opioids.

Young people have less access to mental health, addiction services in the province's north: report

The Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences has found that the number of babies born addicted to opioids is on the rise in the north. (Donna Carreiro/CBC)
A new report paints an alarming picture of the number of babies born with neonatal abstinence syndrome in northern Ontario. The syndrome can occur in babies of mothers who were addicted to opioids.

A range of withdrawal symptoms appear shortly after birth, including sweating, fever, vomiting and seizures.

The Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences found the number of newborns with this syndrome is on the rise in the north.

“We saw a remarkable rise in the number of newborns born with opioid dependence and opioid withdrawal that needs to be managed as newborns,” said Dr. Paul Kurdyak, co-author of the report called Mental Health of Children and Youth in Ontario: A Baseline Scorecard.

Kurdyak's report is the first to examine the scope of mental illness and addictions of Ontario children and youth.

His findings will be used to improve the province's mental health and addictions strategy.

The report also found northeastern Ontario has double the amount of suicides compared to the provincial average — and that figure may disproportionately reflect Aboriginal youth.

Young people have less access to mental health and addiction services in northern Ontario, partly because the system is difficult to understand and access, Kurdyak noted.

“I think that the changes that need to occur are to streamline the access issue so that people don't have to do so much work just trying to get access to services, and then to really evaluate whether those changes are working,” he said.

The report shows that most suicides by young people happen between the ages of 20 and 24.

The report was put together by the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES) in consultation with four provincial ministries: Health and Long Term Care, Education, Children and Youth Services and Training, Colleges and Universities.

Click here to read the report

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