The CHILD Studies research program was created by Dr. Nicole Letourneau (learn more about Dr. Letourneau here). It was initially funded by the Canada Research Chair in Healthy Child Development, then by the Palix Foundation and Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation and now by Dr. Letourneau’s ACHF Chair in Parent-Infant Mental Health.
Our research program focuses on studying Parent-Child relationships, child mental health, neurodevelopment and other child health outcomes affected by “toxic stressors”, such as maternal depression, family violence, and substance abuse.
We also develop and test interventions to overcome toxic stressors affecting children’s health outcomes and because parental and child mental health, particularly in infancy and early childhood are so closely tied, we often study these concepts in combination.
To understand environmental predictors of children’s neurodevelopment, mental health and other health outcomes with a focus on parental perinatal distress (primarily depression, anxiety and biological substrates linked to stress such as cortisol).
To understand underlying mechanisms, mediators and moderators (e.g. epigenetic patterns, genetic plasticity, child sex, early parent-child relationship qualities including sensitivity and responsiveness, maternal-child attachment security) for association between exposure to perinatal distress and children’s neurodevelopment, mental health and other health outcomes.
To develop and test interventions to support vulnerable children’s neurodevelopment and mental health in families affected by toxic stress.
To translate research findings in multiple traditional and novel ways to achieve the largest audience and uptake possible.