Frequently Asked Questions

Get answers to frequently asked questions about family participation in the Healthy Brain and Child Development Study. 


Who can participate?

Participating families will be individuals who join mostly in the second trimester of pregnancy and continue in the study with their newborn infants. Some individuals may be invited to join the study later in their pregnancy or shortly after delivery.

Study locations are across the United States. It is important that people who join the study are different races and ethnicities, with diverse education, income levels, and living environments.  

What will study participants be expected to do?

During these visits, you will be asked to complete interviews and questionnaires. 

In addition, you and/or your child will be asked to:  

  • Provide samples, such as blood (birth parent), urine and saliva (birth parent and child)
  • Participate in behavioral assessments
  • Wear activity and/or heart rate trackers for brief periods of time
  • Undergo safe, non-invasive methods that provide pictures of your child’s brain and measure the brain activity of your child

After the first year, some of these assessments will be repeated each year.

What about costs?

All study assessments and procedures will be provided to you free of charge. You will be compensated for the time spent participating in the study.  

Will personal information be protected?

All identifying information from or about you will be kept private and confidential, as required by law. 

Your family’s information and samples will be stored without personally identifiable information, along with that of others in the study. Researchers will learn from your contributions for many years to come.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

What is Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)?

MRI for InfantsMRI uses a powerful magnetic field, radio waves and a computer to create images that show the brain’s internal structures. Download a flyer about MRI for Infants.

Is magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) safe?

Yes! MRI is safe and painless for your child. Your child will not feel the magnetic field. No health risks have been associated with repeated exposure to the magnetic field or radio waves used in MRI. Unlike X-rays or CT scans, MRI uses no radiation.

HBCD Study researchers have done MRI with thousands of children and babies.

Does magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) cause pain?

No, MRI is safe and painless. The MRI is loud but headphones will be worn for noise reduction.

What will my child go through during the MRI?

You will have an opportunity to see what it is like to be in an MRI machine before the scan.

Your child will be checked to ensure they are not wearing any metals. They will lie on their back on the scan bed and be given plenty of blankets to stay warm. Because the MRI machine makes a lot of noise, earbuds or headphones will be placed over your child’s ears.

Once your child is asleep, they will be placed inside the MRI scanner. The scanner is about the size of a play tunnel. If your child remains asleep, the scan takes about 25 to 45 minutes.

Is there anyone who should not have an MRI?

Because the MRI uses a strong magnet, your baby should not wear any metal (such as piercings, jewelry, or metallic clothing) during the scan.

What if my child wakes up during the MRI?

Most children stay asleep during the MRI. If your child wakes up, you can either soothe them back to sleep, or we can try again another day.

Where are parents during the MRI?

You will be by your child’s side to help them fall asleep. You will be close by in an adjacent room during the scan. The researcher will be in a room next to the MRI room. They will watch your child the entire time through a camera inside the scanner.

Electroencephalogram (EEG)

What is an electroencephalogram (EEG)?

EEG for InfantsThe brain contains billions of neurons and connections between neurons. When neurons talk to each other they use electrical activity. The electrical activity of neurons spreads throughout the head and can be recorded from the scalp using recording sensors. This recorded activity is called the electroencephalogram or EEG. Download a flyer about EEG for Infants.

IS EEG safe?

Yes, it is safe. EEG recordings have been used to examine brain activity in infants, children, and adults for over 30 years. EEG is a non-invasive method for measuring brain activity.

Does EEG cause pain?

Your child may be uncomfortable as the cap is placed on their head. Recording brain activity from the sensors is similar to recording a voice with a tape recorder. This recording process does not hurt the participant in any way.

What is the EEG like?

A special cap soaked in baby shampoo and salt water with many small sensors to pick up electrical signals from the brain will be placed on your baby’s head.  Wires from the sensors will be connected to a computer to record activity.

How long does an EEG take?

EEG recordings are done while your child is awake and last about 25-40 minutes.