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Building a Healthy Foundation for Life
Message from Dr. Shoo Lee, Scientific Director, CIHR Institute of Human Development, Child and Youth Health for World Prematurity Day and National Child Day

November 2018

The CIHR Institute of Human Development, Child and Youth Health (CIHR-IHDCYH) is devoted to supporting research that gives children the healthiest possible start to life. We are committed to doing so in collaboration with our fellow Institutes and partners in Canada and abroad.

November includes two important days for the parent and child health community. November 17 is World Prematurity Day, which raises awareness of preterm birth and the concerns for preterm babies and their families. November 20 is National Child Day, which commemorates the adoption of the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of the Child and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

For World Prematurity Day and National Child Day, CIHR-IHDCYH is highlighting the work of researchers who are making a significant impact on health outcomes for children, youth and families in Canada and internationally.

We support a broad range of initiatives in Child Health that span the 4 CIHR themes from basic to population health research. Our largest initiative is the Healthy Life Trajectories Initiative (HeLTI), which is supporting research into the fetal and developmental origins of chronic disease. The international component of HeLTI is supported through a partnership with the World Health Organization (WHO), as well as the partner funding agencies - the National Natural Science Foundation of ChinaDepartment of Biotechnology of India, and the Medical Research Council of South Africa

Preterm birth is a key strategic priority for CIHR-IHDCYH. Through the Institute’s Preterm Birth Initiative, we are supporting a national network that is working to improve the delivery of care and outcomes of preterm birth, and a team seeking to improve the quality of and access to perinatal health care services across the country, and catalyst grants to advance our understanding of preterm birth and guide new approaches to prevention.  

Examples of leading child health researchers supported by CIHR and IHDCYH include:

  • Dr. Alison Macpherson who is guiding the development and implementation of evidence-based policy for child injury prevention
  • Dr. Roberta Woodgate who is improving health services for children with disabilities, chronic illnesses, or mental health conditions
  • Dr. Carolyn Emery who is shaping sport policies that prevent concussions and improve recovery
  • Dr. Astrid Guttmann and Dr. Natasha Saunders who are working in injury prevention including identifying and addressing the risk of firearm injury among children and youth
  • Dr. Christine Chambers who is addressing children’s pain management through the #ItDoesntHaveToHurt initiative
  • ACCESS Open Minds, a partnership between CIHR and the Graham Boeckh Foundation, is a national research network that aims to improve access to mental health services for youth; and
  • Dr. Peter Szatmari who is leading a study called Pathways in ASD, which is helping families of pre-school children with autism spectrum disorder navigate the journey from diagnosis through treatment and development, to the transition to school. 

On behalf of the Institute, I applaud these researchers and others in our community for their efforts and express sincere appreciation to all our partners for their valued collaboration.

To learn more about how CIHR-funded researchers are making a difference in the lives of Canadians, I invite you to read the Faces of Health Research profiles below.

Dr. Shoo Lee
Scientific Director
CIHR Institute of Human Development, Child and Youth Health

COMPASS: Guiding new directions in the advancement of youth health
Dr. Scott Leatherdale, University of Waterloo

A good start to life: Early childhood development tool allows researchers to measure the health of young populations
Dr. Magdalena Janus, McMaster University

Unraveling the mystery surrounding physical and mental illness co-occurring in children
Dr. Mark Ferro, University of Waterloo

A brighter future for children with brain-based disabilities
Dr. Annette Majnemer, Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre

ENVISIONing a brighter future for Manitoba First Nations families
Dr. Marni Brownell, University of Manitoba

The far-reaching effects of bullying
Dr. Tracy Vaillancourt, University of Ottawa

Why some kids get asthma and others don’t
Dr. Stuart Turvey, University of British Columbia

Championing child-friendly health policies: Giving children a voice
Dr. Wendy Ungar, The Hospital for Sick Children

The protective power of breast milk
Dr. Meghan Azad, University of Manitoba

Helping schools to better meet the mental health needs of students
Dr. Karen Patte, Brock University

More children and youth are in distress than ever before: Exploring the complex web of contributing factors
Dr. Leslie Anne Campbell, Dalhousie University

Studying the link between the formation of our complex ecosystem of gut microbes during infancy and our future health
Dr. Anita Kozyrskyj, University of Alberta

Devoted to reducing the burden of chronic disease in Manitoba
Dr. Jon McGavock and Dr. Andrew Halayko, Children’s Hospital Research Institute of Manitoba

How child maltreatment hurts us all
Dr. Tracey Afifi, University of Manitoba

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