Kajantie serves as a Professor of Lifecourse Medicine at the PEDEGO research unit at the University of Oulu. He is also Research Manager at the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) and holds a Guest Professorship at Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim.
Kajantie has engaged in ground-breaking research in the health and wellbeing of both prematurely born children as well as adults for more than 20 years. He has published more than 350 scientific articles, many of which are on premature infants and their care, and he has been referred to about 13,000 times in scientific literature.
In extensive follow-up studies Kajantie’ research group has utilised national registers and, among other things, the Northern Finland Birth Cohorts coordinated by the University of Oulu.
One example worth mentioning is the ESTER study, headed by Kajantie, on the long-term effects of premature birth and the mother's problems with pregnancy on the health of young adults in 1985-1989 who were born in Northern Finland. The research is unique, as previous studies have mainly focused on adults born as small premature babies (about 1% of all new-borns), whereas ESTER has focused on the full range of preterm births (approximately 10% of all newborns globally). Kajantie's research gives more extensive coverage to the entire array of preterm birth, including the larger premature babies born closer to their due dates, which are in greater number than those who were smaller at birth.
Instead of focusing on their childhood alone, the research of Kajantie's group extends as far as possible into youth and adulthood. His research has taken into account the (epi)genetic mechanisms and the lifelong social and economic consequences that various disturbances during pregnancy have on the child and on the whole family.
Currently, the research is extending to low- and middle-income countries where the majority of preterm babies are born.
Kajantie is a widely appreciated and well-liked researcher who has used his own persona to promote fruitful research cooperation among different organisations and actors. Kajantie himself mentions the ease of collaboration between the University of Oulu and THL as something positive; he says has advanced research into preterm birth.
Professor Kajantie has also inspired new researchers to enter the field, thereby securing the continuity of versatile research into preterm birth in the future as well. For example, he has supervised several doctoral dissertations at the University of Oulu.
In addition to his research, Professor Kajantie is also a practising paediatrician. His medical specialities include paediatrics, clinical genetics, and public health. He has exceptionally broad knowledge and skills in caring for premature infants and in preterm birth and its societal and human impact. He is also working closely with associations that support the parents of premature babies both in Finland (Kevyt) and internationally (EFCNI).
Each year Kevyt, the Finnish association of parents of premature infants, chooses a preemie influencer of the year on 17 November, World Prematurity Day. Through its choices the association wants to draw attention to current and deserving people in matters related to the treatment of premature babies.
This year was the tenth time that a preemie influencer was nominated.
Last updated: 20.11.2019