The Pediatric Public Health Psychology Lab researches children's and adolescent’s health, with a focus on cardiovascular disease (CVD), a family of diseases that affect the heart and blood vessels.
Although cardiovascular disease is something we might think only older adults need to worry about, it is in fact an important health issue for children and their parents. In reality, CVD begins in childhood, showing up in early warning signs such as changes in a child’s blood pressure, heart rate and weight, before progressing into clinical CVD in adulthood.
These early warning signs of CVD, which researchers call precursors, are an important part of our research. In particular we want to know how CVD precursors are affected by a child’s environment (stress, social support), behaviour (diet, exercise, lifestyle choices such as smoking), and psychology (ways of thinking, methods of coping with difficult situations, and mood).
By better understanding how the precursors of CVD develop, and how they influence the development of the disease, we hope to more accurately predict the risk of developing the disease in adulthood, and ultimately prevent the disease by helping to develop better interventions targeted at children and youth.