It’s estimated that by the end of childhood, 40% of our children will be dealing with obesity, asthma, behaviour problems or learning difficulties. Now we are undertaking research to make sure all children have an equal chance in life.
Dr. Jonathon Maguire is leading a research initiative called TARGet Kids! – one of the largest studies of its kind in the world – tracking the development of children and the risk factors for obesity, vitamin D deficiency (which can lead to chronic health conditions like diabetes), respiratory infections and multiple sclerosis. The team will monitor the health of these children and develop interventions, which help them develop to their full potential.
The team, in a unique partnership with SickKids, has already made several important breakthroughs garnering international media attention. They found, for example, a link between obesity at age three and the introduction of solid foods before the age of four months. Another finding revealed that prolonged bottlefeeding (beyond 16 months) can lead to an iron deficiency, which has been linked to behavioural and developmental problems. This is information that is already being used to change healthcare policy and attitudes toward childrearing.