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For the past 10 years, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) has supported better health and health care for Canadians. As the Government of Canada's health research investment agency, CIHR enables the creation of evidence-based knowledge and its transformation into improved treatments, prevention and diagnoses, new products and services, and a stronger, patient-oriented health-care system. Composed of 13 internationally recognized Institutes, CIHR supports more than 13,600 health researchers and trainees across Canada. Through CIHR, the Government of Canada invested approximately $123.5 million in 2009–10 in child health research.
- By the time autism is diagnosed – usually about age three – the best time for treating it has already passed.1
- When Statistics Canada surveyed women who had given birth from 2005 to 2009, 87.5%, or 1.3 million, said they breastfed their most recent baby, if only for a short time. That's up from 81.5% in 2001.2
- A 2008 report indicates more teen girls are abstaining from sex. In 2005, 43% of males and females aged 15 to 19 said they'd had sexual intercourse at least once – down from 47% in 1996–1997. The decline was due to young women, for whom the proportion fell from 51% to 43%. Young men stayed at 43%.3
- The rate of drug use by 15- to 24-year-olds remains far higher than that of adults 25 and older – almost four times higher for cannabis use (26.3% versus 7.6%), and almost five times higher for past-year use of other drugs (6.3% versus 1.3%).4
- Genome Canada: Genomics and Human Health, Autism Story, Cracking the Mystery of Autism
- Statistics Canada: Health Fact Sheets, Breastfeeding, 2009
- Statistics Canada: The Daily, Study: Teen sexual behaviour and condom use
- Health Canada: Major findings from the Canadian Alcohol and Drug Use Monitoring Survey 2009
A better 'built environment' needed to combat childhood obesity
Food, physical activity and the amount of time children spend in front of the TV or computer play roles in childhood obesity. But the built environment – streets, buildings, stores, recreation facilities and transportation systems – is part of the puzzle. An outdoor basketball court, for example, won't do much good on a desolate stretch of pavement where children don't feel safe. Dr. Renée Lyons, Canada Research Chair in Health Promotion and Senior Scientist at the Atlantic Health Promotion Research Centre based at Dalhousie University, and Dr. Jill Grant are leading a three-year study to find ways to invest in built environments to encourage healthy physical activity for children and help reduce obesity. New insights will be shared with decision makers to translate research into action in rural, urban and suburban settings.
Sandy surfaces safer for playgrounds
Children falling off playground equipment are almost five times more likely to fracture an arm if they land on a wood-chip surface compared to granitic sand, concludes a study conducted by CIHR-funded researchers at SickKids Hospital and York University. "Broken arms from playground equipment falls are common and can be severe. A simple sand surface, properly maintained, can prevent many of these injuries," said Dr. Andrew Howard, the study's lead author and an orthopedic surgeon at SickKids. "We hope these findings will help update standards to reduce the most common injuries without limiting children's access to healthy outdoor play."
Caffeine prevents developmental disabilities in preemies
Analysis of data collected from more than 2,000 premature babies has shown that caffeine therapy for apnea reduces the amount of time the babies need to be on a ventilator or receiving oxygen to help them breathe. It also improves the rate of survival at 18–21 months without neurodevelopmental disabilities such as cerebral palsy. "We know that the longer these kids are on the ventilator or receiving oxygen, the worse the long-term outcomes," says study leader Dr. Barbara Schmidt of McMaster University. Dr. Schmidt is in the final stages of analyzing the health status of the children at five years of age, with results due for publication in 2011. Plans are in place to monitor the children's health again at ages 11–12.
Action Schools! BC integrates physical activity and healthy eating
An initiative designed for elementary and middle schools has caught on across British Columbia. Action Schools! BC, which encourages teachers to engage in physical activity and healthy eating habits with their students as part of their daily routines, now supports virtually all of the province's 1,500 schools. "We work with the public, independent, First Nations and francophone schools," says Dr. Heather McKay of the University of British Columbia. With CIHR support, Dr. McKay's multidisciplinary and cross-sectoral team developed Action Schools! BC and has published more than 30 academic papers and presented its work at more than 50 conferences. The team has also prepared three reports for the BC Government to help guide evidence-based decision making.
Sunscreen and DEET not a good mix
Parents who think they are providing their children with double coverage by applying sunscreen and DEET-based insect repellent should think again, according to research by Dr. Xiaochen Gu of the University of Manitoba. "We found that using those two together increases the amount of the substances getting absorbed into the body," says Dr. Gu. "Parents have to realize these were intended for topical use only and really shouldn't be in the body." Dr. Gu has expanded his research to investigate other insect repellents and has found that picaridin-based ones "do not have the same absorption profile" when used with sunscreens. "It could be a better choice if you want to use the two together. It's safer in terms of transdermal absorption."
For More Information
The CIHR Institute of Human Development, Child and Youth Health (CIHR-IHDCYH) promotes and supports research that improves the health and development of mothers, infants, children, youth and families in Canada and throughout the world. Through our support, researchers address a wide range of health concerns, including those associated with reproduction, early development, childhood and adolescence. To learn more about these priorities and other CIHR-IHDCYH activities, please visit the Institute's website.
For more information, go to ARCHIVED - Your Health Research Dollars at Work.