1 in 10
babies worldwide are born too soon
Improving the health of very low birth
weight infants through nutrition
In Canada, the leading cause of death among infants and long-term disability among children is being born preterm and its complications. The overarching vision of the research led by Drs. O'Connor and Unger is to improve the survival and long-term prognosis of infants born at a very low birth weight through nutrition. The MaxiMoM research program addresses the urgent need for policymakers, clinicians, researchers, and families to work together to identify and rigorously evaluate promising nutrition strategies that, if proven effective and safe, can be seamlessly incorporated into clinical practice.
MaxiMoM research is conducted in a cadre of world-class institutions located in Toronto’s Discovery District. This includes the University of Toronto, The Hospital for Sick Children, Mount Sinai Hospital, and the Rogers Hixon Ontario Human Milk Bank. Through the established feeding network, the research spans neonatal intensive care units across the country. Facilities at the Université Laval, University of Ottawa and Wilfrid Laurier allow for collaboration across the country.
The core research team and laboratories are at the SickKids Research Institute located in the Peter Gilgan Centre for Research and Learning.
MaxiMoM by the numbers
neonatal intensive care units across the country collaborate on MaxiMoM projects
babies have participated in our studies to date
interdisciplinary clinicians and research collaborators support and inspire our work
studies conducted within the MaxiMoM program
Human milk = mother's own milk or donor milk
Human milk can be lifesaving for preterm babies. It can reduce the risk of necrotizing enterocolitis, a life-threatening bowel disease.
The composition of human milk is dynamic and changing. We are interested in understanding the factors that influence its composition and how to make it the best nutrition source for the health and development of preterm babies.
Human milk composition
Human milk contains many bioactive components that help the: brain, immune system and gut.
While mother's own milk is ideal, many babies in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) receive donor milk to meet their needs.
With the Rogers Hixon Ontario Human Milk Bank, we study donor milk and how to:
maintain its bioactive components
improve its nutrient content