Ronald Barr’s recent research initiatives have been in pursuit of understanding the important influences of mother-infant interaction in early infant development.
He and his colleagues have been studying how maternal contact and taste contribute to reducing infants’ pain response during painful procedures; how maternal breastfeeding during immunization contributes to “breastfeeding analgesia”; and how breastfeeding in the first days and weeks of life enhances normal newborn infant memory for spoken words. A CIHR review of the latter study described it as one of the most substantive findings on infant memory in the last 40 years. All of these studies have a common theme: to understand the ‘hidden regulators’ of infant physiology and behaviour – ‘hidden,’ that is, in the normal interaction between mothers and infants. Barr is the architect of the Period of PURPLE Crying program that was developed with the National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome in the United States. It is now the most widely used prevention program in the United States and Canada, and is undergoing jurisdiction-wide trials of effectiveness in British Columbia, Canada and North Carolina.
Pediatric Chairs of Canada Academic Leadership Clinical Investigator Award
Canada Research Chair, Community Child Health Research
Adjunct Professor, Pediatrics, McGill University
Ambulatory Pediatric Association's Research Award