For Families | Overview
We are so grateful for the families who participate in our research. Thank you! Without you, none of our work would be possible. In an effort to keep participating families informed, we update this page periodically with snippets of our newsletter and other study-related news.
To view a PDF of the full newsletter, click the link at the bottom of the page.
Para leer el boletín en español, por favor oprima "Español Boletín al final de la página.
Frequently asked questions
What do you study?
At the Biobehavioral Research Laboratory, we study how environmental exposures and maternal and child experiences affect children's health and development. We are particularly interested in understanding the role that these factors have on children's mental health, physical health, and neurodevelopment — and the biological pathways that may shape these outcomes.
Why am I a part of this study?
You are eligible to participate in our studies if you have participated with us in the past.Because we are a longitudinal study, participants have study visits at or around pregnancy, 6 months, 3 years, 5 years, and 7 years. If you have already expressed to us continued interest in participating, our study staff will contact you once your child is eligible (typically around his or her birthday).
Why do you ask for biosamples?
Biosamples can give us important (non-diagnostic) information about what your child's body has experienced and how it is functioning.
- Teeth, like the rings of a tree, help us understand child exposures to chemicals and other substances during different periods of development.
- Urine is liquid gold! It can tell us about how children's bodies are handling stress and what kinds of chemicals are in the child's environment.
- Blood can tell us how children's immune systems are functioning and how healthy their cells are.
- Hair gives us information about cortisol, an important stress hormone.
Who is running the study?
The lab's director, or "principal investigator," is Michelle Bosquet Enlow, PhD. She is a clinical and developmental psychologist.
What if I need to mail something study-related (like biosamples or questionnaires)?
Our mailing address is:
Michelle Bosquet Enlow
Boston Children's Hospital
300 Longwood Ave
Mailstop BCH 3199
Boston, MA 02115
I am super busy! I'm worried I may not have time to participate.
Fortunately, our study staff is extremely flexible, and we are able to accommodate most of our families' busy schedules. We are available for late-night and weekend study visits, and are around during most holidays and school vacations. Reach out and we can work out a time!
- During pregnancy, we took hair samples from mothers to measure cortisol, a stress hormone. We found that different levels of cortisol in pregnancy were related to infants' emotions
- Fun Fact: each 3cm segment of a hair sample can show cortisol levels for a trimester of pregnancy. Using hair to measure cortisol is a new and unique way to study child development.
- Positive experiences during a mother's childhood may have a protective effect on how her children's genes function
- Maternal diet during pregnancy may protect against negative effects of prenatal stress on infant behavior
- A caring maternal-infant relationship offers young children many benefits including:
- an enhanced ability to manage biological responses to stress in infancy
- better neurocognitive abilities (working memory, behavioral control) in preschool
- protection against mental health problems in adolescence
- Children's temperament and sex (boy vs. girl) influence how they respond to mothers' experiences and behaviors
Child Assent Forms: