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Healthy Baby Study

Brief Description

The purpose of this study is to reduce the prevalence of lifelong health impairments that may be caused by stressful experiences in the early years of life. To learn about this we look at the range of experiences that babies have when they are very young, within their first year of life, and see how those experiences affect the way their brain and body develops.

Eligibility for Participation

We are currently enrolling mothers who are 18 years or older and their typically developing infants who are:

  • 0-2 months of age
  • Receiving early postnatal services at Boston Children’s Hospital Primary Care Clinic
  • Born within 3 weeks of their due date
  • Birth weight of at least 2500 grams

Research Contact

healthybabystudy@childrens.harvard.edu

Participation Details

This study involves four visits to our lab, when babies are 2 months, 6 months, 9 months, and 12 months old. All of the visits are timed so they coincide with your baby’s primary care visit to help make it very convenient for you to come in. During the visits we ask you to fill out a few questionnaires and we will show your baby some videos while we record their eye movements. We’ll also use a special, non-invasive cap that lets us see their brain activity while they watch the videos. If it’s ok with you we will also collect a small urine sample from your baby and a blood sample from you at each visit. We offer $50 to you per session, so up to $200 in total, as a thank you for participating, as well as a free toy for your baby. We can also provide free parking or transportation and free childcare for siblings.

Full Description

It is natural for every family to have a huge range of life experiences (both stressful and non-stressful). For some babies, early stressful experiences have been found to increase risk for health problems later in life. In the current study we aim to understand the range of experiences that babies have, and to determine how different babies respond to those experiences in different ways. To do this we will collect some information from questionnaires, measure baby’s eye-movements, and record their brain response while they sit on their mom’s lap and watch some fun videos. We will also look at markers in urine samples from babies and blood samples from moms to see how their bodies respond to the experiences they have had at different points in time. By using varied methods and following the same babies over their first year we aim to create a comprehensive picture of risk and resilience during the earliest stages of development.  

By learning more about how babies respond to the experiences they encounter, we aim to better understand the effects of stress, and improve our understanding of which babies are most at risk for health problems later in life. By improving techniques for earlier identification we aim to create interventions that are best suited to help individual children and their families have the best possible outcomes.

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