Child Health Research Overview
Child and youth health is a major concern for Canadians.
The well-being of our society depends upon the health of its children and the success with which they become productive adults. Our responsibility is to look after our most vulnerable citizens. Child health research is important to ensure the present and future health of Canada’s children. Despite our status as one of the wealthiest countries in the planet, the health of our children in only ranked 12th out of 21 countries in the United Nations’ rankings of child well-being.1
Some of the emerging issues impacting the health of Canadian children include chronic disease, childhood obesity, diabetes, asthma, injury, mental health disorders and socioeconomic disparities in health. Research is essential to identify evidence-based solutions and will allow us to overcome these significant health challenges facing Canada’s children and youth.
Why child and youth health research is important.
Children’s health issues and diseases are very different from those of adults. Children’s physiology is inherently different than adults; their cells are growing and dividing rapidly, their organs are still developing, and their bodies and minds react differently to illness and medications. Research findings for adults cannot simply be applied to children. Medications and other treatments effective for adults may not work effectively or safely for children. Children require health research strategies and solutions that specifically address their health needs.
What child and youth health research is about.
Child health research includes a broad spectrum of research disciplines and areas working together, to improve the care of children, from before birth to adolescence. Some of these research disciplines are listed below. Click on the links below for a recent example of child health research breakthroughs in each area; please note that this will navigate you away from our site.
Research at all stages, from fundamental discovery of the underlying causes of disease to the development of new treatments to outcomes analysis and health system research, informs and improves the health of our children. The benefits of child and youth health research include an improved quality of life for children and families, and improved long-term health outcomes with children transitioning to healthy and productive adults.
- Epidemiology, to understand the factors influencing the health and illness of populations
- The development of new diagnostic tools or treatment interventions, or improving the application of existing interventions
- Studies monitoring the impact and outcomes of interventions
- Health systems and policy research
- Basic discovery into how cells grow and develop, interact in complex systems and hence better understand the factors contributing to both healthy and diseased development
- Research to better understand the genetic basis of many childhood diseases
Child and youth health research has profoundly improved the health of our children and the health of our nation. The following are just a few of the successes of child and youth health research in the last 30 years:
- Improvements in prenatal care and diagnosis.
- Reduced incidence of childhood malnutrition and vitamin deficiencies.
- Reduction in the incidence of SIDS.
- Profound increases in the survival rates for some childhood cancers.
- Prevention of infectious diseases (polio, mumps, rubella, meningitis).
- Improvements in the acute care of children experiencing trauma.
- New methods for identifying and reducing pain in infants and children.
- Diagnosis and treatments of chronic diseases such as childhood diabetes.
Find out why embedding child and youth health research in hospital environments is important.
1 UNICEF (2007) Child poverty in perspective: An overview of child well-being in rich countries, Innocenti Report Card 7