One-day institute discusses maternal and child health care

On Friday, Sept. 27, researchers and students participated in York University’s second Lillian Wright Maternal Child Institute. This year’s one-day research and learning institute, “From Lab to Community Research”, included a wide range of student and faculty presentations followed by group discussions related to maternal and child health and health care.

York psychology Professor Rebecca Pillai Riddell shared her research on parent and infant behaviour during immunizations to predict mental health. Pain during immunization is seen as a picture into infant/parent relationships. Maternal sensitivity at 12 months old, for example, may predict sensitivity in preschool. Infant regulation and maternal sensitivity at 12 months can predict cognitive LillianWrightWorkshopprocessing and psychosocial behaviors.

York psychology Professor Rebecca Pillai Riddell talks to participants of the Lillian Wright Maternal Child Institute

Pillai Riddell’s talk was followed by student poster presentations on research ranging from how to support healthy outcomes of infants and adolescent mothers to infant birth order, caregiver sensitivity in the first year, and substance abusing moms and children under six years of age. A special student presentation was made on the prevalence of pediatric bipolar disorder and the resultant increase in prescriptions. The increase in pediatric bipolar diagnosis could indicate that normal child processes are being turned into diagnoses.

Nazilla Khanlou, professor of nursing and academic lead of the Lillian Wright Maternal Child Health Scholars Program, presented her recent research study looking at the barriers and facilitators to social support for immigrant mothers of children with disabilities. Transportation, language barriers, extensive paperwork, long wait times and a lack of awareness among service providers were among the many barriers faced by these mothers. Recommendations based on findings included improved access to care using the case management model, as well as integrated and coordinated services, and Group-Photoadequate funding to decrease wait times.

From left, Professor Nazilla Khanlou, Bramilee Dhayanandhan, Professor Rebecca Pillai Riddell, Professor Tsorng-Yeh Lee, Monica O’Neill, Julie Wallis, Nicole Racine and Dr. Chang Su

Professor of nursing Tsorng-Yeh Lee presented her research on Chinese-Canadian women experiences with maternal care in Canada. The study found that Chinese mothers had less access to obstetrical clinics due to distance and wait times, which resulted in a lack of continuity of care. There was a preference for same-language providers, and where same-language obstetricians were unavailable, mothers found same-language midwives helpful despite initial reluctance. Implications of this study include the need to improve access to same-language, culturally sensitive care, as well as the need for additional services to counter limited support systems.

The final and keynote presentation of the day was by Chang Su, the Inaugural Lillian Wright Post-Doctoral Fellow, who presented her research on the role of culture affecting parenting style. Her work explored cross-cultural parenting styles among three groups of mothers of children aged two to six years. The goal of her study was to look at the effects of life stressors, social support and cultural norms on parenting styles among three groups of mothers (Chinese mothers in China, Chinese immigrants and European Canadians). The study found that the environment affects parenting for all three groups of mothers and that heritage and country affected authoritarian and authoritative parenting styles differently.

Faculty of Health Dean Harvey Skinner gave a special greeting at the event for participants. Michael Miceli and Nicole Racine, co-chairs of Lillian Wright Maternal Child Health Academy, led the open discussion and conclusion of the institute.

For more information, visit the Lillian Wright Maternal Child Institute: From Lab to Community Research website.

Submitted to YFile by Wajma Soroor.