CHICAGO (CBS) — A first-of-its-kind nationwide study is expected to provide doctors and parents with new clues about the puzzles of children’s health, and researchers in Chicago are looking for families to take part.

As WBBM Newsradio’s Steve Miller reports, the National Children’s Study will seek conclusions from the environment – including factors such as air, water, diet, noise, family dynamics, differences in community and culture, and genetics, in the growth and development of children from birth to age 21.

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LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Steve Miller reports

Northwestern Memorial Hospital pediatrician Dr. Jane Holl is leading the study in Chicago.

“This is the largest, and longest, and most complete study of mother and children’s health that’s ever been conducted in the United States,” Holl said.

Dr. Holl says nationwide, researchers are looking for 200,000 families. In Cook, DuPage and Will counties, they’re looking for 4,000 to help answer some questions.

Researchers will be seeking answers to questions that doctors wouldn’t normally ask to get a good picture of family health.

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“What we eat, the air we breathe, whether or not we have parks to play in, what substances are used to build our houses – these are all things that also very significantly influence our health,” Holl said.

For one example, researchers hope to find out more about recent concerns about putting children’s food in plastic bottles.

“And does that really influence their health? We aren’t really sure,” Holl said.

The team is also looking for answers to numerous other questions.

“What really are the underlying causes of autism? Or why is the rate of asthma continuing to rise in the United States? Or why do we still have babies that are born prematurely or born too small?” Holl said.

Holl says the study is enrolling women 18 to 49.

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For more information, click here for the official Web site, or call toll free, (866) 315-7124, or text ncsmom to 57682.