MONITORING BABIES

Pregnant Women Wanted

Would you let a researcher analyze your vaginal fluid, toenail clippings, and breast milk? For months, scientists have been dispatching door-to-door emissaries across the country to recruit pregnant women willing to do just that. With several hundred participants so far, the National Children's Study aims to enroll 100,000 pregnant women in 105 countries, then monitor their babies until they turn 21 in the largest long-term study of children’s health yet. The study—which was authorized by Congress in 2000 and is projected to cost about $6.7 billion—will examine how environment, genes, and other factors affect children's health, addressing questions on subjects from ranging from asthma to autism.