Government of Canada invests in better health for premature babies

News Release

May 12, 2017 – Ottawa, Ontario – Canadian Institutes of Health Research

Each year an estimated 390,000 babies are born in Canada. Although most of these babies reach the average 40 weeks of gestation normally required for full growth and development, nearly 8 percent are born prematurely – at 37 weeks or less. These premature babies face serious complications and are at higher risk of developing chronic health conditions later in life. Even more serious, preterm birth accounts for two-thirds of infant deaths in Canada.

The Honourable Jane Philpott, Minister of Health, today announced an investment of $6.45 million from the Government of Canada through the Canadian Institutes of Health (CIHR) to support a major research initiative focused on advancing knowledge in preterm birth research and improving the health outcomes for premature babies. This funding will be matched in part by $4.25 million of in-kind support from hospitals across Canada.

The funding will support three separate efforts: 1) A new pan-Canadian preterm birth collaborative research network led by Dr. Prakeshkumar Shah at Sinai Health System in Toronto that will be working to improve health outcomes for premature babies; 2) A research team led by Dr. K.S. Joseph at the University of British Columbia and the BC Children’s Hospital that is focusing on improving the system of perinatal care for all mothers and their babies including those born prematurely; and 3) Six research projects that will investigate new ways to predict and prevent preterm birth and improve health outcomes for premature babies.

This research is being funded under the Preterm ‎Birth Initiative led by CIHR's Institute of Human Development, Child and Youth Health.


Quotes

“Despite significant advances in recent years, premature babies and their families still face significant challenges, in the first days of life and beyond.  This research initiative will help healthcare providers improve care for pregnant women and premature babies across Canada.”
Jane Philpott
Minister of Health

“In Canada, we have a strong community of researchers and clinicians working in the field of perinatal health, and together we provide a high standard of care. This initiative is designed to fill gaps in our knowledge and to identify how we can improve health care delivery and practices to improve outcomes for premature babies.”
Dr. Shoo Lee
Scientific Director, CIHR Institute of Human Development, Child and Youth Health

Quick Facts

  • An estimated 390,000 babies are born each year in Canada.

  • The average gestation period normally required for full growth and development of a human baby is 40 weeks. Preterm birth is defined when a baby is born at less than 37 weeks.  

  • The preterm birth rate in Canada is 7.8 percent. Preterm birth accounts for two thirds of infant deaths in Canada. The cause of 70 percent of preterm births is unknown. 

  • CIHR’s Institute of Human Development, Child and Youth Health (CIHR-IHDCYH) established a Preterm Birth Initiative to better understand how to care for premature babies, to strengthen health care services for high risk pregnancies and premature babies in all regions of the country, and to stimulate new avenues of research in preterm birth.

  • Under the initiative, CIHR-IHDCYH is investing $6.45 million to support a pan-Canadian collaborative research network, a national team to improve the perinatal health care system and six research projects that will investigate new ways to predict and prevent preterm birth and improve health outcomes for premature babies. 

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Contacts

Andrew MacKendrick
Office of the Honourable Jane Philpott
Minister of Health
613-957-0200

Media Relations
Canadian Institutes of Health Research
613-941-4563
mediarelations@cihr-irsc.gc.ca

At the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) we know that research has the power to change lives. As Canada's health research investment agency, we collaborate with partners and researchers to support the discoveries and innovations that improve our health and strengthen our health care system.


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