Catherine Birken

Catherine Birken MD, M.Sc., FRCPC
Professor — Status Only
Department of Nutritional Sciences
Contact Info
T: (416) 813-4930
F: (416) 813-5979
Hospital for Sick Children
555 University Avenue
Toronto, ON, M5G 1X8
Appointment Status Cross-Appointed
Accepting new students


Research Synopsis

  • TARGet Kids! Longitudinal cohort design and pragmatic randomized controlled trials, obesity prevention and treatment, physical activity and screen time
  • Injury prevention
  • Childhood obesity prevention
  • Health promotion in preschool children through office practice settings
  • Complex morbid obesity treatment


  • 2014-2019 Co-Principal Investigator, Fit for School, Fit for Life: Child Health and School Readiness
  • 2015-2019 Co-Principal Investigator, Team to Address Bariatric Case in Canadian Children (Team ABC3)
  • 2016-2018 Principal Investigator, Addressing Obesity in Toddlers at Risk: A Pragmatic Randomized Controlled Trial Comparing Usual Care to Group-Based Parenting and Home Visits in Primary Care

Publications and Awards

View PubMed search of this faculty member's recent publications.

Recent Publications

van den Heuvel M, Ma J, Borkhoff CM, Koroshegyi C, Dai DWH, Parkin PC, Maguire JL, Birken CS, on behalf of the TARGet Kids! Collaboration. Mobile media device use is associated with expressive language delay in 18-month-old children. Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics 2019 Feb/Mar;40(2):99-104.

Sypes EE, Parkin PC, Birken CS, Carsley S, Macarthur C, Maguire JL, Borkhoff CM, TARGet Kids! Collaboration. Higher body mass index is associated with iron deficiency in children 1 to 3 years of age. J Pediatr 2018 Dec 20 (Epub ahead of print)

Carsley S, Tu K, Parkin P, Pullenayegum E, Birken C. Overweight and obesity in preschool aged children and risk of mental health service utilization. International Journal of Obesity 2018 Dec 13. (Epub ahead of print)

Kim THM, Tavares E, Birken CS. Engaging parents to research childhood interventions aimed at preventing common health problems. CMAJ 2018;190(Suppl):S22-S23.

Hueniken K, Aglipay M, Birken CS, Parkin PC, Loeb MB, Thorpe KE, Dai DW, Mamdani M, Mazzulli T, Maguire JL. Effect of high-dose vitamin D supplementation on upper respiratory tract infection symptom severity in healthy children. The Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal 2018 Nov 5. (Epub ahead of print)

Oatley H, Borkhoff CM, Chen S, Macarthur C, Persaud N, Birken CS, Maguire JL, Parkin PC. Screening for iron deficiency in early childhood using serum ferritin in the primary care setting. Pediatrics 2018 Dec;142:(6).

Bayoumi I, Parkin PC, Lebovic G, Patel R, Link K, Birken CS, MaguireJL, Borkhoff CM. Iron deficiency among low income Canadian toddlers: A cross-sectional feasibility study in a Community Health Centre and non-Community Health Centre sites. BMC Family Practice 2018;19(1):161.

Kamel M, Smith BT, Wahi G, Carsley S, Birken CS, Anderson LN. Continuous cardiometabolic risk score definitions in early childhood: a scoping review. Obesity Review 2018 Sep 17. Epub ahead of print.

Persaud N, Laupacis A, Azarpazhooh A, Birken C, Hoch J, Isaranuwatchai W, Maguire J, Mamdani M, Thorpe K, Bazeghi F, Parkin P. Xylitol for the prevention of acute otitis media episodes in children aged 2-4: Protocol for a pragmatic randomized controlled trial. BMJ Open 2018 Aug 5;8(8):e020941.

Borkhoff CM, Dai DWH, Jairam JA, Wong PD, Cox KA, Maguire JL, Birken CS, Macarthur C, Parkin PC. Breastfeeding to 12 months and beyond: nutrition outcomes at 3 to 5 years. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2018;108(2):354-362.

Omand JA, To T, O’Connor DL, Parkin PC, Birken CS, Thorpe KE, Maguire JL. 25-hydroxyvitamin D, and health service utilization for asthma in early childhood. Pediatric Pulmonology 2018 Jun 15. (Epub ahead of print)

Satkunam M, Anderson LN, Carsley S, Maguire JL, Parkin PC, Sprague A, Ball GDC, Birken CS on behalf of the TARGet Kids! Collaboration and Team ABC. Severe obesity in children 17 to 24 months of age: A cross-sectional study of TARGet Kids! And Better Outcomes Registry & Network (BORN) Ontario. Canadian Journal of Public Health 2018 May 30. (Epub ahead of print)

Rivera J, McPherson A, Hamilton J, Birken CS, Coons M, Peters M, Lyer S, George T, Nguyen C, Stinson J. User-centered design of a mobile app for weight and health management in adolescents with complex health needs: A qualitative needs assessment. JMIR 2018 Apr 4;2(1):e7.

Selvanayagam T, Walker S, Gazzellone MJ, Kellam B, Cytrynbaum C, Stavropoulos DJ, Li P, Birken CS, Hamilton J, Weksberg R, Scherer SW. Genome-wide copy number variation analysis identifies novel candidate loci associated with pediatric obesity. Eur J Hum Genet 2018 Jul 5. Epub ahead of print.

Janus M, Brownell M, Reid-Westoby C, Bennett T, Birken C, Coplan R, Duku E, Ferro MA, Forer B, Georgiades S, Gorter JW, Guhn M, Maguire JL, Manson H, Pei J, Santos R. Establishing a protocol for building a pan-Canadian population-based monitoring system for early childhood development for children with health disorders: Canadian Children’s Health in Context Study (CCHICS). BMJ Open 2018;8(5):e023688. Doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2018-023688.

Carsley S, Birken CS, Parkin PC, Pullenayegum E, Tu K. Completeness and accuracy of anthropometric measurements in electronic medical records for children attending primary care. Journal of Innovation in Health Informatics 2018;25(1):963.

Eny KM, Chen S, Anderson LN, Chen Y, Lebovic G, Pullenayegum E, Parkin PC, Maguire JL, Birken CS on behalf of the TARGet Kids! Collaboration. Breastfeeding duration, maternal BMI and birthweight are associated with differences in BMI growth trajectories in early childhood. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2018 Apr 1;107(4):584-592.

van den Heuvel M, Birken CS. Food insecurity and breastfeeding. Canadian Medical Association Journal 2018 Mar 19;190(11):E310-E311. Doi: 10.1503/cmaj.180167.

Carsley SE, Anderson LN, Plumptre L, Parkin PC, Maguire JL, Birken CS on behalf of the TARGet Kids! Collaboration. Severe obesity, obesity, and cardiometabolic risk in children 0 to 6 years of age. Childhood Obesity 2017;13(5):415-424.

Manlhiot C, Mueller B, O’Shea S, Majeed H, Bernknopf B, Labelle M, Westcott KV, Bai H, Chahal N, Birken CS, Yeung RSM, McCrindle BW. Environmental epidemiology of Kawasaki disease: Linking disease etiology, pathogenesis and global distribution. PLoS One 2018 Feb 7;13(2):e0191087. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0191087. eCollection 2018.

Fuller A, Maguire JL, Carsley S, Chen Y, Lebovic G, Omand J, Parkin PC, Birken CS. Parent reported difficulty buying food, BMI, and eating habits in young children. Can J Public Health 2018;108(5-6):e497-e.502.

Narang I, McCrindle BW, Manlhiot C, Lu Z, Al-Saleh S, Birken Cs, Hamilton J. Intermittent nocturnal hypoxia and metabolic risk in obese adolescents with obstructive sleep apnea. Sleep Breath. 2018 Jan 22. doi:10.1007/s11325-018-1631-9. (Epub ahead of print).

Wong P, Anderson L, Dai W, Parkin PC, Maguire JL, Birken CS. The association of breastfeeding duration and early childhood cardiometabolic risk. The Journal of Pediatrics 2018:192:80-5.e1.

Carsley S, Birken CS, Tu K, Pullenaygum E, Parkin PC. Examining growth monitoring practices for children in primary care. Archives of Disease in Childhood 2018;103:406-407. Published Online: Oct 26/17. Doi:10.1136/archdischild-2017-314016.

Sharp JR, Maguire JL, Carsley S, Abdullah K, Chen Y, Perrin EM, Parkin PC, Birken CS. Temperament is associated with outdoor free play in young children: A TARGet Kids! study. Academic Pediatrics 2018 May-Jun;18(4):445-451. Epub 2017 Aug 22.

Korczak DJ, Madigan S, Colasanto M, Szatmari P, Chen Y, Maguire J, Parkin P, Birken CS. The longitudinal association between temperament and physical activity in young children. Preventive Medicine 2018 Jun;111:342-347. Epub 2017 Nov 29.

Plumptre L, Hoyt L, Anderson LN, Chen Y, Carsley S, Narang I, Hamilton J, McCrindle B, Parkin P, Maguire J, Birken C. Longitudinal analysis of sleep duration and cardiometabolic risk in young children. Childhood Obesity 2017;13(4):291-299.

Chaput JP, Gray CE, Poitras VJ, Carson V, Gruber R, Birken CS, MacLean JE, Aubert S, Sampson M, Trembley MS. Systematic review of the relationships between sleep duration and health indicators in children aged 0-4 year. BMC Public Health. 2017:17(Suppl 5): 855. doi: 10.1186/s12889-017-4850-2.

Anderson LN, Carsley S, Lebovic G, Borkhoff CM, Maguire JL, Parkin PC, Birken CS. Misclassification of child body mass index from cut-points defined by rounded percentiles instead of Z-scores. BMC Research Notes 2017;10(1):639.

Morency ME, Birken CS, Lebovic G, Chen Y, L’Abbe M, Lee GJ, Maguire JL, TARGet Kids! Collaboration. Association between non-cow’s milk beverage consumption and childhood height. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2017;106(2):597-602 doi:10.3945/ajcn.117.156877

Albaum J, Carsley S, Chen Y, Dai D, Lebovic G, McCrindle B, Parkin P, Maguire J, Birken CS. Persistent high non-high-density lipoprotein cholesterol in early childhood: A latent class growth model analysis. J Pediatr 2017 Dec;191:152-157.

Parkin PC, Hamid J, Borkhoff CM, Abdullah K, Atenafu EG, Birken CS, Maguire JL, Azad A, Higgins V, Adeli K, on behalf of the TARGet Kids! Collaboration. Laboratory reference intervals in the assessment of iron status in young children. BMJ Paediatrics Open 2017;1:e000074. doi: 10.1136/bmjpo-2017-000074

Anderson LN, Ball GDC, Birken CS, Buchholz A, Carsley S, Chanoine JP, Clairman H, Dettmer E, Forhan M, Gehring ND, Hadjiyannakis S, Hamilton J, Hanning R, Haines J, Ho J, Holt NL, Kim T, Legault L, Luca P, Maguire JL, Maximova K, McPherson AC, Morrison KM, Masse LC, Parkin PC, Perez A, Sprague AE, Toulany A, Tremblay MS, Tu K. The Team to Address Bariatric Care in Canadian Children (Team ABC3): Team Grant Study Research Proposal. BMC Research 2017;10(1):301. Doi: 10.1186/s13104-017-2506-z.

Lavigne M, Birken C, Maguire J, Straus S, Laupacis A. Priority setting in pediatric care research. Archives of Diseases in Childhood 2017 Aug;102(8):748-753 doi:10.1136/archdischild-2016-312284

Aglipay M, Birken CS, Parkin PC, Loeb MB, Thorpe K, Chen Y, Laupacis A, Mamdani M, Macarthur C, Hoch JS, Mazzulli T, Maguire JL. Effect of high-dose vs standard-dose wintertime vitamin D supplementation on viral upper respiratory tract infections in young children. JAMA. 2017;318(3):245-254. Doi:10.1001/jama.2017.8708

Persaud N, Ziai H, Lebovic G, Maguire JL, Khovratovich M, Simpson JAR, Adeli K, Hamilton J, McCrindle BW, Parkin PC, Birken CS; TARGet Kids! collaboration. Parent reported nutritional risk and laboratory indices of cardiometabolic risk and in preschool-aged children. J Pediatr Endocrinol Metab. 2017;30(8):839-846. Doi: 10.1515/jpem-2016-0328.

Omand JA, To T, O’Connor DL, Parkin PC, Birken CS, Thorpe KE, Maguire JL. 25-hydroxyvitamin D, supplementation and health service utilization for URTI in young children. Public Health Nutrition 2017;20(10):1816-1824. Doi: 10.1017/S1368980017000921.

Ryckman K, Richmond SA, Anderson LN, Parkin P, Birken C, Macarthur C, Maguire J, Howard A. Temperament and fracture in preschool-aged children. Paediatrics & Child Health 2017;22(4)195-198. DOI:

Wong PD, Fung K, Parkin PC, Birken CS, Chen Y, Venu I, Schroth RJ, Maguire JL. Total breastfeeding duration and dental caries in healthy urban children. Academic Pediatrics 2017:17(3):310-315.

Abdullah K, Thorpe K, Chen Y, Birken CS, Maguire JL, Parkin PC. Re-evaluation of serum ferritin cut-off values for the diagnosis of iron deficiency in infants aged 12-36 months. Journal of Pediatrics 2017;188:287-290. Doi: 10.1016/j.jpeds.2017.03.028. Epub ahead of print.

Anderson LN, Heong SW, Chen Y, Thorpe KE, Adeli K, Howard A, Sochett E, Birken CS, Parkin P, Maguire JL on behalf of the TARGet Kids collaboration. Vitamin D and fracture risk in early childhood: a case-control study. American Journal of Epidemiology 2017 Jun 15;185(12): 1255-1262. Doi: 10.1093/aje/kww204 Epub ahead of print Apr 28:1-8.

Birken CS, Tu K, Oud W, Carsley S, Hanna M, Lebovic G, Guttmann A. Determining rates of overweight and obese status in children using electronic medical records: cross-sectional study. Canadian Family Physician 2017 Feb;63(2):e114-e122.

Anderson LN, Maguire JL, Lebovic G, Hanley A, Hamilton J, Adeli K, McCrindle B, Borkhoff CM, Parkin PC, Birken CS. Duration of fasting serum lipids and metabolic profile in early childhood. Journal of Pediatrics 2017 Jan;180:47-52.e1.Doi: 10.1016/j.jpeds.2016.09.005. Epub 2016 Oct 11.