Frequently Asked Questions

What are your findings so far?

From our data, we have learned there are micronutrient deficiencies among our population of healthy children. For example, iron is important for healthy brain development – 10% of the TARGet Kids! children have low iron levels. Vitamin D is important for healthy development of bones and the immune system – 30% of young children have low vitamin D levels. Healthy weight in young childhood is important in preventing heart disease and diabetes in adulthood – 25% of young children have a weight which places them at risk for future health problems. For more information on published research studies from the TARGet Kids! study, go to the Publications section in TARGet Kids! Research.


What are the inclusion criteria in TARGet Kids?

TARGet Kids! recruits participants who are under 6 years of age and are healthy by parental report. Children with asthma are eligible for the project as well.


My child suffers from a chronic condition. Can he/she still participate?

If the chronic condition does not interfere with your child’s growth and development (eg asthma), he/she may participate.


My child was born prematurely. Can he/she still participate?



How long are you planning on running this study? i.e. Until what age will my child be followed?

While TARGet Kids! has no official end date, we are aiming to follow-up children as long as they are attending their annual check-ups with their current physician.


How long will my child be in the study?

Parents and children can participate for as long as they are able and interested.


How many children are in the study so far?

To date, TARGet Kids! has enrolled over 9,000 participants. This is now the largest study of young Canadian children recruited through doctors offices.


Is all the information confidential?

Yes, all the information collected for TARGet Kids! is kept confidential. Any identifying information (names, birth dates, addresses) are kept separately from the forms and both are kept in locked filing cabinets in a locked office. Our data is managed and analyzed at the Applied Health Research Centre (AHRC) which is a full service, academic, clinical research coordination centre. Policies and procedures regarding the conduct of research are governed by the Government of Canada Panel on Research Ethics.


Is my physician part of the research team?

All physicians who have agreed to participate in TARGet Kids! are part of the TK research team. This research endeavor would not be possible without their committment and enthusiasm. They participate in developing our research questions, designing our studies and disseminating our findings.


How many vials of blood do you need? How is the blood taken? What is my child tested for by this blood work?

Blood samples are drawn by Research Assistants trained in taking blood from children. Blood is tested for iron, ferritin, transferrin, soluble transferrin receptors, CBC, 25-Hydroxyvitamin D, PTH, lipid profile, insulin, glucose, calcium, phosphorous, albumen, AST, ALT and alkaline phosphatase. The total amount of blood required is up to 9-12 ml (less than 1 tablespoon), well within the acceptable amount for research purposes in this age group. Parents are not required to give blood. The whole procedure usually takes about 5 minutes. The blood is transported and processed at Mount Sinai Services which provides state-of-the art laboratory services to researchers.


Will my child have blood taken every time?

After the initial visit and inclusion into the TARGet Kids! study, your child has the opportunity to have blood work at other follow up visits. We are learning that a child’s blood profile may change from year to year, according to their phase of growth and development. Repeated measures over time is one of the most powerful scientific methods to allow researchers to get a better idea of the determinants of healthy growth and development.


Will I get the blood work results?

All blood work results are sent directly to your child’s doctor for review. Parents will be contacted immediately if any results are found that are out of normal range and a follow up appointment will be booked. If the blood work comes back normal, parents are not contacted. To date, we have identified many children with results who have benefited from testing and their child’s physician has made recommendations to improve the test results.


Do we have to go to SickKids or elsewhere for the blood work or the follow ups?

No. All blood work and follow ups will occur at your child’s doctor's office during regularly scheduled visits.


Is there anything I can apply for my child before blood work to ease the pain?

Topical anesthetic cream (EMLA or Ametop) is offered to minimize discomfort from venipuncture.


How long does it take to fill out the questionnaires?

The length of questionnaires and tools administered depend on child’s age at the time of visit and might take up to 20-25 minutes.