AllerGen’s CHILD Study was in the spotlight at the 2018 Sandbox Summit, held April 12 in downtown Toronto. The Study was held up at the event as a success story in an area of social concern where otherwise Canada has been found lacking: child and youth health.
The 2018 Summit marked the tenth anniversary of the publication of “Reaching for the Top: A Report by the Advisor on Healthy Children and Youth.” It was this document that spawned the creation of the Summit’s host organization, The Sandbox Project, in response to the needs the report outlined.
The report’s author, now-Conservative MP Dr. Kellie Leitch, observed at the Summit that, of the five key recommendations made in her 2007 report, significant progress has been made on only one—thanks to the CHILD Study: the undertaking of “a Longitudinal Cohort Study to provide data on the health of Canadian children and youth to help understand environmental factors impacting children’s health.”
The value of the Study, and the need for the research it enables, was remarked all the more keenly by Summit participants as various presenters referenced the 2018 UNICEF Report Card. The document ranks Canada poorly among developed countries on various measures of child wellbeing (25th overall out of 41 countries, despite Canada’s being among the world’s ten most prosperous nations).
Also at the 2018 Summit, AllerGen investigator Dr. Meghan Azad reprised her role, one she also filled at the 2017 incarnation of the event, as CHILD ambassador and science communicator extraordinaire: reporting on recent policy-relevant Study findings, and, in a workshop setting, mining the expertise present for ideas on how to mobilize those findings to maximize their social impact.
Dr. Azad’s presentation and the ensuing discussion focused on CHILD findings relating to breastfeeding and timing the introduction of allergenic foods to infants. Summit participants offered their informed observations on the complexity of the issues at play when making recommendations about breastfeeding in particular, and provided suggestions around the framing of research questions and analysis as the Study continues to follow its young participants, and their families, in the years ahead.
The annual Sandbox Summit, an activity of AllerGen partner organizationThe Sandbox Project, brings together many of the leading players working in Canada’s child and youth health sector—healthcare practitioners, academics, policymakers, not-for-profit organizations, youth groups, social entrepreneurs—to exchange knowledge and experience, and to work collaboratively toward finding practical solutions to the health and wellbeing challenges faced by Canada’s children and youth.
Graphic by Brittany Datchko of BrillianceMastery.com