In a study that comes off like a scientific Facebook experiment, researchers in Britain obsessively tracked thousands of children born in the 1990s, storing tissues—including 9,000 placentas, plus urine, finger nails and plasma—and keeping tabs on life milestones like drinking, hitting puberty and having sex.
This spring, the first members of the group turn 21. And on 18 April, leaders of the study and their collaborators from around the world will meet in Bristol to discuss what they have learned from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC), also known as the Children of the 90s.
The results have generated more than 700 scientific papers and range from policy-changing health advice for pregnant women and young children to the discovery of genetic factors involved in fetal growth, obesity, allergies and bone density1, 2, 3,4. The study has also inspired and guided other birth cohorts, including the world’s largest, which is tracking more than 100,000 children in Norway.