Safeguarding children's health

  • Worldwide, 124 million children with obesity.
  • 100,000 children aged 5–16 in London who have a mental health disorder.
  • 700,000 of London's children living in relative poverty.

All children deserve the best chances in life. Our research is improving children’s health and shaping their future wellbeing.

 How do we safeguard the health of children who grow up in poverty? And what can we do to improve young people’s mental health? In our new Mohn Centre for Children’s Health and Wellbeing, we’re bringing together expertise to address these challenges and more.

 Genetics, lifestyle, and environmental factors all play a part in the common diseases of childhood. Our researchers are unpicking this complex network of interactions to protect the health of children around the world. . We’re also exploring how early interventions in childhood can reduce the risk of individuals developing diseases in later life. 

Tools for healthcare professionals 

Our research is tackling childhood infection, locally and globally. We’re developing tools to help doctors distinguish between life-threatening bacterial infections, such as meningococcal disease, and other less-serious viral infections. As a result of this work, fewer children will be treated unnecessarily and those at real risk will be quickly identified. 

Tackling excess weight in children is a priority for us too. In White City, we’re providing insights to guide a childhood obesity programme that works with the community to encourage young people to be more active and eat a healthier diet. We’re also working together to improve the way that obesity is measured by piloting new web-based tools to support clinicians.

With your support, we will:

Establish new academic posts in the Mohn Centre for Children’s Health and Wellbeing
The team led by Professor Mireille Toledano will carry out research projects covering child mental health, obesity in childhood and the impact of air pollution on development.

Improve care and outcomes for babies
We will expand our research around premature birth and life-long health to improve care for pre-term babies and understand how early-life experiences negatively impact health in adulthood.

Counter the crisis in teenage mental health 
Working with 5,000 London teenagers, we’re examining factors that promote resilience to mental health problems caused by the pandemic. We’ll also explore whether changes in use of digital technology, such as social media usage, during the pandemic has had a positive or negative impact.

Unravelling health challenges

Being able to apply our research to the real world is key. Working with clinicians, local authorities and local community organisations, we’re improving mental and physical health in children.

Our discoveries are helping to:

  • Inform drug development – Imperial's work on asthma uses birth cohort data and statistical machine learning to identify genetic and environmental risk factors.
  • Improve care – we’re investigating how differences in care for premature babies affect health throughout childhood and into adulthood. 
  • Explore the impact of technology – our researchers are looking at the effects of mobile phone technology on cognitive development.