Project 1: Birth Cohort IKIDS: Illinois Kids Development Study

A Research Partnership with Carle Foundation Hospital, Christie Clinic, Presence Medical Center,
the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Brigham
and Women’s Hospital/Harvard Medical School

IKIDS Study Timeline


1. Cord Blood Collection

Cord blood collection: Samples are collected from newborns to measure inflammatory biomarkers and epigenomic changes in the child. The association between these factors and prenatal exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) is examined.  In addition, cord blood is also archived for future analyses, which may include measuring exposure to other environmental contaminants of concern. 


2. Sexually Dimorphic Indices

Sexually dimorphic indices: Measures that differentiate boys and girls, including anogenital distance and second to fourth finger ratios, are taken of the newborn infant.  Associations between prenatal exposure to EDCs and sexually dimorphic indices are investigated.

tiny finger

3. Meconium Collection

Meconium Collection: A sample of meconium is collected from the newborn to examine the associations between prenatal exposure to EDCs and the newborn's gut microbiome.

4. Attention and Memory are Measured at Birth

Attention and Memory are measured at birth by showing 2-D images to the infant on the computer screen and measuring how long the infant looks at them.  During the test, a researcher holds the infant in front of a computer monitor that is inside a cabinet on wheels (A).  A second researcher sits on the opposite side facing another cabinet (B) which contains the computer that controls the presentation of the images and a monitor that shows the infant's face via a webcam video capture.  This researcher tracks the infant's eye movements.

Infant Positioned in Front of Monitor

The researcher holding the infant faces a cabinet with 2 shelves.  The infant is positioned in front of a large monitor on the lower shelf (C), and the researcher watches the infant via the monitor on the upper shelf (D), making sure the infant remains centered in front of the lower monitor throughout the test. 



The Monitor Display

The monitor on the lower shelf displays images in 2 larger side windows (L and R) and one smaller central window (C).  A hidden speaker (S), located below this central window, plays different sentences in infant directed speech (e.g., "Baby, look!") each time a stimulus is presented in the central window (C). A hidden webcam (W), also located below the central window, records the infant's face during the test. 

Test Trial: Habitualtion Trial

Infants are shown 2 types of stimuli: a face and a geometric shape.  For each type of stimulus, infants receive a habituation trial followed by two test trials.  In the habituation trial, infants are shown two identical images in the side windows until they begin to lose interest as indicated by decreased looking at the images. 

Testing Screens

Test Trial: Shape Stimuli

In the test trials, the familiar image is paired with a novel image.  The images are displayed for 20 seconds.  In one trial, the novel image is shown on the right, and in the other trial, the novel image is on the left.  If infants remember the familiar image, they should look longer at the novel image.

Keeping Babies Attentive

To keep infants attentive during the test, an animated image (e.g., a toy monster opening (A) and closing its mouth (B)) is shown in the central window and paired with the sound of a female voice saying something in infant-directed speech (e.g. "Baby, look!").  Once the infant looks at this central location for a couple of seconds, the attention-grabbing stimulus disappears and the trial resumes with the face or shape stimuli shown in the side windows.  The relationship between prenatal exposure to EDCs and performance in this memory and attention task is studied.