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About Sickkids
About SickKids

June 20, 2012

AboutKidsHealth.ca supports new and expecting moms and dads in Nunavut

TORONTO – Using the rich aboriginal tradition of storytelling AboutKidsHealth.ca aims to improve the health and well-being of new and expecting families among Canada’s Inuit population in Nunavut. AboutKidsHealth.ca, the child health information website developed by The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids), has launched a new initiative called Inuit Health Matters.

The Inuit of Nunavut experience the highest Canadian rates of teen pregnancy, pre-term births, smoking, drug and alcohol use during pregnancy, infection, newborn and infant death and hospital readmission after birth.

“In order to improve health outcomes in Canada’s Northern communities, like Nunavut, discussions about healthy lifestyles, sex and sexuality need to take place earlier, before the pregnancy begins,” says Dr. Amanda Sheppard, Project Lead and Applied Scientist at AboutsKidsHealth.ca. “Pregnancy and birth are part of a continuum for better health.”

Using culturally-relevant stories with illustrations, Inuit Health Matters offers engaging and informative health materials including week-by-week prenatal health guides for expecting moms, month-by-month information for expecting dads, a sex education teaching poster for parents and additional resources for health care providers.  The health guides are being distributed through the Government of Nunavut’s Department of Health and Social Services to health centres in all territorial communities. Materials are available in English, French, Inuktitut and Inuinnaqtun.  

Highlighting the rich oral tradition of Canada’s Inuit populations, the stories of three family relationships are weaved through the health education content. The characters were chosen with the goal of reflecting realistic scenarios in the North. It was also very important that the materials had a Northern look and feel, explains Sheppard. Not only are the majority of the characters Inuit, but attention was also paid to the subtle details of clothing, homes and communities. The chosen colours reflect those naturally occurring in the Northern landscape - blues, purples and reds.

“Healthy pregnancies happen in the context of healthy families and healthy communities. These educational resources will be an excellent tool to educate families about maternal-child health in their own communities,” says Dr. Geraldine Osborne, Chief Medical Officer of Health, Department of Health and Social Sciences, Government of Nunavut and Member of the Inuit Health Matters Advisory Board. “We’re trying not to single out pregnant women, but to take into account the environment in which they live.”

“Every expecting mom and dad deserves to be informed about all aspects of their pregnancy,” says Sheppard. “I hope the Inuit Health Matters content will empower and educate the soon-to-be-moms and dads about healthy behaviours and attitudes about the pregnancy and their baby’s development.”

Sheppard was in Iqaluit, Nunavut this May to deliver some of the Inuit Health Matters materials to new and expecting families at different family-centred programs.  “There wasn't one person who didn't have an enthusiastic response to seeing the 'Pregnancy Stories'. The dads-to-be were impressed that there was content specific to them too,” says Sheppard. “Those who had already had their babies said they wished they’d had the Pregnancy Stories booklet while they were pregnant.”

This initiative was made possible through the support of the Public Health Agency of Canada.

About AboutKidsHealth.ca
AboutKidsHealth.ca is a leading online destination for trusted child health and parenting information. Launched in 2004, the site features more than 15,000 pages of content created in collaboration with over 300 health specialists at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) in Toronto, Canada.The site features a wide range of topics including information on common child health conditions, pregnancy, child safety, family nutrition and parenting techniques as well as extensive information on complex childhood conditions including autism, ADHD, diabetes, brain tumours, heart conditions, epilepsy and leukemia.AboutKidsHealth.ca has been translated into French and Chinese, with more articles available in Arabic, Punjabi, Spanish, Tamil, Urdu and Portuguese. Since its inception, AboutKidsHealth.ca has received visits from over 500 communities in Canada and more than 200 countries worldwide.

About The Hospital for Sick Children
The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) is recognized as one of the world’s foremost paediatric health-care institutions and is Canada’s leading centre dedicated to advancing children’s health through the integration of patient care, research and education. Founded in 1875 and affiliated with the University of Toronto, SickKids is one of Canada’s most research-intensive hospitals and has generated discoveries that have helped children globally.  Its mission is to provide the best in complex and specialized child and family-centred care; pioneer scientific and clinical advancements; share expertise; foster an academic environment that nurtures health-care professionals; and champion an accessible, comprehensive and sustainable child health system. SickKids is proud of its vision for Healthier Children. A Better World. For more information, please visit www.sickkids.ca. Follow us on Twitter (@SickKidsNews) and Instagram (@SickKidsToronto).

For more information, please contact:

Caitlin McNamee-Lamb
The Hospital for Sick Children
Phone: 416-813-7654 ext. 1436
email: caitlin.mcnamee-lamb@sickkids.ca

Nunavut Project Kickoff