Postdoctoral Research

Pregnancy and Birth in Women with Disabilities

Co-Principal Investigators: Hilary Brown (University of Toronto Scarborough) and Yona Lunsky (Centre for Addiction and Mental Health)

Funding: National Institutes of Health (US)

Project Summary

Our goal is to generate knowledge that will improve the perinatal health and health care experiences of women with physical, sensory, and intellectual and developmental disabilities in Ontario.

In the first phase, we will conduct a province-wide study using health and social services administrative data. Our specific aims are to:

  • Describe the preconception health characteristics and fertility/pregnancy rates of women with and without disabilities;
  • Compare maternal and infant outcomes or complications (e.g., gestational diabetes, cesarean delivery, preterm birth) of women with versus without disabilities; and
  • Evaluate factors that exacerbate or explain risks for complications.

In the second phase, we will interview women with disabilities, health and social service providers, and decision-makers in Ontario. Our specific aims are to:

  • Explore social, health, and health care factors that could impact the pregnancy and birth experiences of women with disabilities; and
  • Identify how this knowledge can be used to improve the health and health care experiences of women with disabilities during pregnancy and birth.

I am leading the second (qualitative) phase of this study and coordinating the study’s advisory committee (members include women and mothers with disabilities, staff from organizations that work with people with disabilities, health and social service providers, and representatives from the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care).


This is a photo of some members of the research team and advisory committee at our first official meeting in September 2018.