An historic alliance that saved thousands of children in Quebec!
On November 18, the Montreal Children’s Hospital Foundation hosted a cocktail in honour of the 50th anniversary of the impressive collaboration between Mr. H. Arnold Steinberg and Dr. Charles Scriver, which had a major impact on generations of children in Quebec. The unprecedented alliance between the visionary entrepreneur and the respected geneticist led to the addition of vitamin D to milk in Quebec.
The event brought together members of the Steinberg family and friends, including the late Mr. Steinberg’s two daughters, Margot Steinberg and Dr. Donna Stern, and more than ten researchers from the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre, several of whom worked alongside Dr. Scriver, described by many as the man who “defined the history of genetics at the Children’s and across Canada.”
Half a century ago, the men joined forces to tackle a public-health issue related to nutrition. Following extensive research, Dr. Scriver discovered that babies suffering from rickets, a disease that affects bone growth and is caused by a vitamin D deficiency, were typically from poor families. The solution? Adding vitamin D to bottled milk everywhere in Quebec.
Facing some resistance from milk marketers in Montreal, Dr. Scriver called upon grocery store giant, Mr. Steinberg. “No vitamin D in the milk, no contract,” the famous grocer proclaimed, winning the battle against Montreal executives who had resisted the initiative.
Dr. Nicolas Steinmetz, who had the opportunity to cross paths with Mr. Steinberg, remembers: “He was an anomaly, in a wonderful way, a rare businessman who understood the importance of the health of children in building a healthy society.”
Mr. Steinberg’s actions helped combat the high rate of rickets among the province’s poorest children, which went from one case in 200 to one in 20,000 overnight. A victory for public health!
The Montreal Children's Hospital Foundation is proud to pay tribute to this special alliance between Mr. Steinberg and Dr. Scriver, a partnership that has significantly improved children’s health in Quebec.