Canada Foundation for Innovation

Canada Foundation for Innovation

March 08, 2011 08:30 ET

CFI News Brief/Supporting At-Risk Families: Researcher Helps Women be Better Mothers

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - March 8, 2011) - Nicole Letourneau's current research, which aims to help disadvantaged women get ahead, is the kind of work that resonates on March 8, International Women's Day — a day that recognizes women's challenges and achievements. Letourneau is looking at how to help addicted mothers be better mothers by staying on the Methadone Maintenance Treatment program.

"Healthy child development is one of the biggest determinants of how adults turn out in life and it is heavily influenced by family environment," says Letourneau, head of the Child Health Intervention and Longitudinal Development (CHILD) program at the University of New Brunswick.

It is a program that works with support services to address issues facing disadvantaged mothers and their children. "It's a no-brainer really — if you want to help society, then help the family."

Letourneau, holder of the Canada Research Chair in Healthy Child Development, and her colleagues are currently wrapping up a study in partnership with the Ridgewood Addiction Centre in South Bay, N.B. The team interviewed twenty mothers participating in the methadone program to find out what would be helpful to them during and after treatment with a goal of tailoring a support program for them and their children.

Although controversial, the use of methadone to treat heroine addiction is currently the best option for mothers who struggle to maintain stability for their children. Yet many vulnerable mothers engaged in the program lack the support network and resources to stick with it. They often end up dropping out and turning back to drugs, unable to care for their children.

Once the responses are summarized this spring, Letourneau and her team will develop a program they hope will be introduced to clinics nationwide. "We want to help mothers stick to their treatment, help them rebuild relationships with their children and in turn promote healthy child development."

The CHILD program is funded by the Canada Foundation for Innovation. For a story about other research by Nicole Letourneau, visit

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Created by the Government of Canada in 1997, the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) strives to build our nation's capacity to undertake world-class research and technology development to benefit Canadians. Thanks to CFI investment in state-of-the-art facilities and equipment, universities, colleges, research hospitals and non-profit research institutions are attracting and retaining the world's top talent, training the next generation of researchers, supporting private-sector innovation and creating high-quality jobs that strengthen Canada's position in today's knowledge economy.

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