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J Altern Complement Med. 2008 May;14(4):369-72. doi: 10.1089/acm.2007.0696.

MotherNature: establishing a Canadian research network for natural health products (NHPs) during pregnancy and lactation.

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  • 1Motherisk Program, Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.



It has been estimated that between 7% and 55% of expectant mothers use herbal medicines or other types of natural health products (NHPs). Unfortunately, the safety and efficacy of NHPs during pregnancy and lactation is largely unknown. The Motherisk Program, at the Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, the is the major Canadian group to counsel and monitor outcomes of women using medications or NHPs, or of women exposed to chemicals, radiation or infection during pregnancy and lactation.


To create a network for research on NHPs during pregnancy and lactation by forming longstanding collaborations among Canadian medical and complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) practitioners and scientists.


MotherNature Network members participated in three 2-day workshops and three conference calls throughout the length of this study. Each member was responsible to lead discussions surrounding one theme and address the following: initiation; development; presentation; and synthesis of comments of all members on the designated theme.


We prioritized areas in high need for future research and collaborative means to conduct such research. NHPs were prioritized for their importance for future study. Areas for the prospective collection of data on NHP use in pregnancy and lactation were identified. A research and business plan was developed for the long-term sustainability of the Network.


The MotherNature Network is well-situated to create a new climate in Canada, where data are collected and interpreted on the effects and safety of NHPs during pregnancy and lactation.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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