Paediatrics and Nutritional Sciences
Many of the Centre’s researchers work internationally to find answers to global health challenges. Daniel Roth, a paediatrician and scientist at the Hospital for Sick Children, is one such researcher. His work explores the determinants and consequences of vitamin D deficiency during pregnancy in South Asia.
At the moment, Roth is leading a large clinical trial of maternal vitamin D supplementation in Dhaka, Bangladesh. “I am particularly interested in the effects of vitamin D supplementation in pregnant women on the growth of their babies in the first years of life,” he says.
This is relevant to countries like Bangladesh that have high rates of stunting — impaired growth of infants and children. “Because of various factors, including lifestyle and diet, vitamin D deficiency is common among women in Bangladesh. In this setting, there may be multiple benefits of improving vitamin D nutrition during pregnancy for both the mother and her child.”
While Roth’s research specifically targets resource-poor settings, he hopes that the new knowledge will be applicable around the world. “We are trying to understand, fundamentally, just how important vitamin D is during pregnancy. However, we are focused on Bangladesh because it’s a setting in which the effects of vitamin D deficiency for mothers and the development of their children may be particularly pronounced.”
In fact, average vitamin D levels in pregnant women in Canada during winters are not that different from women in Bangladesh. “Although we don’t have the same burden of nutritional problems or growth failure in infants here, there may be other benefits of improving vitamin D status in pregnant women in Canada.”
Roth hopes the Lawson Centre helps to tackle the most important underlying issues leading to childhood malnutrition and obesity. “As biomedical researchers, we tend to focus on relatively small components of larger issues,” he says. “Yet, most childhood nutritional problems are ultimately determined by socioeconomic inequalities and structural factors in society — whether in our own city, country or internationally — that lead to inequitable access to health resources and care.”
Overall, Roth is grateful that his research contributes to the professional development of many people involved with the implementation of the project in Bangladesh. “Through our partner organization in Dhaka — icddr,b — we can create opportunities and build capacity among individuals, including research physicians and community health workers. Also, the mothers and children who volunteer to participate in the research benefit a lot from the close attention to their health care needs by the study team. If our research eventually generates new ideas that have a lasting value for public health, then that will be a bonus.”
At a glance:
Daniel Roth, MD, MSc, PhD
- Global maternal–child health and nutrition
- Nutrition-infection relationships
- Vitamin D status during pregnancy and early infancy, with a particular focus on its determinants and consequences in South Asia
- Application of pulse oximetry to the first-level management of sick, young infants in developing countries
- Calcium supplementation during pregnancy for the prevention of hypertensive diseases of pregnancy, preterm birth, and neonatal mortality in resource-poor settings where dietary calcium intakes are low
- Prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of neonatal sepsis and infant lower respiratory tract infections in resource-limited settings
- Assistant Professor, Departments of Paediatrics and Nutritional Sciences, University of Toronto
- Associate Member, School of Graduate Studies, University of Toronto
- Staff Physician, Paediatric Medicine, Hospital for Sick Children
- Scientist, Child Health Evaluative Sciences, Research Institute, Hospital for Sick Children
- Phone: 416-813-5795
- Email: email@example.com
See Daniel’s profile on SickKids website for more information.