Women's Health

What is the problem?

Women with developmental disabilities (DD) tend to have poorer health than other groups. Previous research by the H-CARDD program and others shows that they are less likely to get screened for reproductive cancers than those in the general population. Pregnancy and motherhood also pose a challenge. Women in general tend to have increased risk of certain side effects from antipsychotic medications, which are the drugs women with DD are most commonly prescribed. However, no research has investigated this issue among women with DD.

How is H-CARDD helping?

The H-CARDD program aims to understand and describe health disparities in women with DD in Ontario. Our research focus is on three areas that are a high priority for these women:

  • Screening for reproductive cancers;
  • Maternal reproductive health and pregnancy; and
  • Gender differences in side effects from medications used to treat behaviour problems and psychiatric problems among individuals with DD.

The H-CARDD program is in keeping with the vision of the Ontario Women's Health Framework, which aims to improve health and well-being for Ontario women, especially those who are disadvantaged, through targeted approaches and system change.

For more information, please contact:

Simone Vigod, MD, MSc, FRCPC
Scientist, Women's College Research Institute
Staff Psychiatrist, Women's College Hospital
Assistant Professor, Department of Psychiatry, University of Toronto
Phone: 416 323 6400
Email: simone.vigod@wchospital.ca

Virginie Cobigo, PhD, C.Psych.
Associate Professor, School of Psychology & Centre for Research on Educational and Community Services, University of Ottawa
Phone: 613 562 5800, Ext. 7753
Email: virginie.cobigo@uottawa.ca


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More information

Summary: get a quick overview of this study in the research snapshot Women with Developmental Disabilities Face Numerous Health Challenges. Snapshots are easy to understand two page summaries of H-CARDD research findings.

Publications: for scientific journal publications about H-CARDD research, please visit our knowledge exchange section.

Recently published:

Labour and delivery interventions in women with intellectual and developmental disabilities: A population-based cohort study. 

Morbidity and mortality of women and men with intellectual and developmental disabilities newly initiating antipsychotic drugs.

Maternal and offspring outcomes in women with intellectual and developmental disabilities: A population-based cohort study.

Newsletter: H-CARDD contributes regularly to a newsletter with information for direct support workers published by Vita community services and HANDS Family Help Network. Read a special issue: Not skirting the issue: Discovering ways to end poor health care for women with developmental disabilities.

Video: watch a Town Hall presentation and discussion of the research findings: Women and Mothers with Developmental Disabilities: Priorities for Action.

Health care tools: H-CARDD shares and develops tools for caregivers, clinicians and people with developmental disabilities that improve communication and information sharing in health care settings. Visit our health care resources section for more information.