Our Research

St. Michael’s is already a leader in caring for pregnant moms and babies. And yet, we never stop pushing to find new medical breakthroughs and new models of care. We’re the hospital other hospitals call when they need advice on how to care for vulnerable moms and their babies. We set national standards for how babies should be resuscitated and inform national policy on treating neonatal illnesses. Many of our pediatricians, obstetricians and gynecologists are also professors at the University of Toronto. In fact, we train the majority of U of T obstetric, pediatric and family residents – including those from SickKids.

VITASCOPE: Each year, more than 13 million newborns worldwide need help to breathe. One million of them won’t make it. That’s because medical professionals often can’t find the heartbeat quickly enough. Existing tools, like stethoscopes and heart rate monitors, can be inaccurate and painfully slow.

That’s why our own Dr. Doug Campbell, director of St. Michael’s NICU, and Dr. Sri Krishnan, associate dean, Faculty of Engineering and Architectural Science at Ryerson University, combined forces to develop a digital device that attaches to a normal stethoscope and quickly and accurately displays the baby’s heart rate. This truly innovative tool will transform the resuscitation of babies and give more newborns the chance at life they deserve.

NEOVEST: Premature babies often have difficulty breathing when they are first born. Traditional ventilators – with tubes that go down the throat – are hard on delicate newborns and can cause permanent damage. Drs. Jennifer Beck and Christer Sinderby came up with NeoVest – a wireless technology that picks up signals from the baby’s brain to the baby’s breathing muscles and fires a message to a soft vest that gently expands and helps the baby breathe. Clinical trials of NeoVest are about to get underway and it’s only a matter of time before this technology transforms the care of these tiny and precious patients.

BATTLING JAUNDICE: Because our physicians have developed more stringent protocols for catching jaundice early, there is better prevention of possible brain damage in countless babies.

FAS: St. Michael’s Chief of Pediatrics Dr. Michael Sgro is part of a research team that is tracking babies born to mothers who drank excessively during pregnancy. The scientists want to figure out what makes a baby more or less likely to develop fetal alcohol spectrum disorder.

BACTERIAL INFECTION: In one area of his risk-assessment research, Dr. Sgro is looking at which babies are most likely to contract two of the most common and deadly bacteria among newborns. He found that premature babies, those born to moms who had a fever during pregnancy and those born after long labours, are most at risk of Group B streptococcus and E. coli. He also conducts research showing which strains of these bacteria are most resistant to standard antibiotics, and how best to modify treatment.

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