28 June 2017

A research team at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) in Toronto, ON, has been awarded $75,000 to use CHILD Study data to develop tools that will predict and monitor lung disease in young children.

The research funding, announced today, is part of a $1.85 million investment from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Institute of Human Development, Child and Youth Health (IHDCYH) to improve reproductive, maternal and child health outcomes across Canada.

“In Canada, lung diseases cause more hospitalizations among preschoolers than any other disease,” says AllerGen investigator Dr. Teresa To, a professor at The University of Toronto and a Senior Scientist at SickKids, who will lead the project. “Although chronic lung diseases such as asthma often begin at a young age, they are typically not diagnosed until a few years later. This grant will allow our team to build models to predict breathing problems in children, which we believe will reduce the delay in diagnosis and improve a child’s overall respiratory health.”

The CHILD Study, a national birth cohort study, is following 3,500 children and their families from pre-birth to school age and beyond. Through home visits, questionnaires and clinical assessments that track the children as they grow, CHILD has acquired an unprecedented pool of early-life genetic, epigenetic and health data, including state-of-the-art lung test results from infancy to preschool age. This lung health data will be linked with population data provided by the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES) to determine how many times children in Ontario visited a doctor or hospital emergency department for breathing problems.

The team will also compare CHILD Study data to environmental exposures information from the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change to evaluate how the air quality in and around the children’s homes may affect their lung health.

CHILD Study investigator Dr. Wendy Lou and CHILD Study co-Director Dr. Padmaja Subbarao are part of the research team. “This new IHDCYH funding will help us to detect asthma earlier in childhood, and even to stop asthma and related lung diseases from worsening,” says Dr. Subbarao.

“We are delighted to be part of this CIHR initiative that will use CHILD Study data and other existing resources to enable individual and population-based strategies for diagnosis, treatment, and even disease prevention.”