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Preterm statistic

1 in 10

babies worldwide are born too soon

MaxiMoM goal

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.  

Facilities description

Our facilities 

SickKids Research Institute

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 information
Baby Breastfeeding

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 information

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 includes many bioactive compounds including: water, protein, carbohydrates/lactose, fats, antibodies, other immune cells, vitamins, minerals, human milk oligosaccharides, 800 strains of bacteria, growth factors, hormones.

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

Why human milk? 

SickKids Research Institute

Peter Gilgan Centre for Research and Learning

686 Bay Street

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

M5G 0A4

Department of Nutritional Sciences

University of Toronto

1 King's College Circle

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

M5S 1A8

© 2021 MaxiMoM Research

SickKids logo
Nutritional Sciences, University of Toronto logo
Mount Sinai Hospital logo
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