CIHR-IHDCYH’s Preterm Birth Initiative: Investing in preterm birth and perinatal health care research

This is a guest post submitted by Dr. Sarah De La Rue, Assistant Director at CIHR-IHDCYH.

We at the Canadian Institutes of Health Research Institute of Human Development, Child and Youth Health (CIHR-IHDCYH) are pleased to share the news that the Honourable Jane Philpott, Minister of Health recently announced an investment of $6.45 million in preterm birth and perinatal health care research. This funding will support three major components of our Preterm Birth Initiative:

  • A pan-Canadian preterm birth network grant,
  • A team grant in national perinatal health care system improvement, and
  • Six catalyst grants in preterm birth research.

The available funds for this initiative were augmented by contributions from CAPHC member organizations, as well as the CIHR Institute of Circulatory and Respiratory Health (ICRH).

  • For the preterm birth network, $4.25 million of in-kind support will be provided from partnering health care institutions across Canada.
  • ICRH provided additional funds that allowed us to expand the number of catalyst teams that were funded. 

Congratulations to all the members and partners of the 8 funded teams!


An estimated 390,000 babies are born each year in Canada, of these nearly 8 percent are born preterm. Preterm birth accounts for nearly two thirds of infant deaths in Canada and is associated with increased morbidity throughout the life course and subsequent adult-onset chronic disease. In addition to these health effects, preterm birth has social and financial impacts on the affected individuals and their families, and places additional costs on society in terms of healthcare and education.

Care before, during and in the first few months after pregnancy for mothers and their preterm babies occurs within the perinatal health care system. Overall, Canadians benefit from excellent perinatal health care. However, the regionalization of care throughout Canada results in significant variability in maternal and infant outcomes for all babies, not just those born preterm, as well as variability in perinatal care practices and health care system performance between provinces and territories.

Recognizing the need to address these problems, IHDCYH’s Preterm Birth Initiative aims to support the development of innovative approaches to the understanding, prevention and treatment of preterm birth. The recently funded grants will advance knowledge in preterm birth and perinatal health care research and improve health outcomes for premature babies.


CIHR is the Government of Canada’s health research investment agency. CIHR’s mission is to create new scientific knowledge and to enable its translation into improved health, more effective health services and products, and a strengthened health care system for Canadians. Composed of 13 Institutes, CIHR provides leadership and support to health researchers and trainees across Canada.

CIHR-IHDCYH supports research that ensures the best start in life for all Canadians and the achievement of their potential for optimal growth and development.

To learn more about CIHR-IHDCYH’s initiatives and the research we are supporting, please visit our webpages.

Ann WatkinsComment