UPDATED to include comment from SickKids
Once a trusted resource for expecting parents, Motherisk.org now appears to be owned by a for-profit cannabis-related blog and pushes the use of CBD oil.
Since its launch in 1985, the Motherisk program, run by SickKids Hospital in Toronto, has aided countless people in helping them understand what you should or shouldn’t expose your baby to while pregnant or breastfeeding by providing them with research-based safety information. However, SickKids closed the program back in April 2019 due to lack of funding, and in a worrisome turn of events, the original site, Motherisk.org, has since been taken over by CBD Clinicals.
The Motherisk helpline saved me when I was pregnant—I can’t believe it’s goneThe concern is that people who haven’t heard of the closure may still try to go to the site for help or recommend others to use it. That would be a bad idea. If you go to motherisk.org, you are rerouted to a page on the CBD Clinicals site that discusses the use of CBD oil—a topical oil sourced from cannabis plants said to have countless benefits—for new and expectant mothers. None of the original information from the old Motherisk, such as specifics on various ingredients and medications to avoid, is available and the articles are all about CBD oil. While these articles don’t explicitly recommend the use of the drug (many simply state that there is not enough research), the slant towards CBD is very clear. As well, the recommendations they do provide regarding other medications and natural remedies aren’t necessarily research-based in the way the trusted well of information previously provided by SickKids was.
SickKids released a statement in November informing the public that “the motherisk.org website is currently being operated by a third party and in no way represents SickKids or the former Motherisk Helplines.” In lieu of the helpline, SickKids recommends that those with questions get in contact with their healthcare providers.
Attempts to visit motherisk.com, motherrisk.org and motherrisk.com—URLs that are similar to but slightly different than the original domain—are redirected to the SickKids statement. So why was the original domain name given up or sold in the first place?
According to SickKids, “The domain name expired and was released following the closure” which they said was an oversight that they are working to prevent from happening in the future. “We know that many individuals and members of the medical community relied upon this website as a resource for up-to-date information about medications and other exposures during pregnancy and breastfeeding,” SickKids said in an email release. “We are concerned this content will be perceived to have been validated by SickKids experts.”
As well, CBD Clincials told CTV News that they were unaware of Motherisk’s history when they bought the domain on advice from consultants.