OK, I'll admit it. When my girls were in diapers, I occasionally did a double take while I was changing their diapers to inspect the goods. I didn't poke around or anything, but I did give their business an occasional inspection to make sure things were working smoothly.

But that's nothing compared to the in-depth analysis that researchers will be doing, looking at the diapers of selected babies and toddlers and mapping the DNA of the bacteria in their poop in the hopes of figuring out if antibiotic use, C-sections, or environmental factors increase a child's risk of asthma or allergies.

Researchers will follow the children for five years to see if there is any link between asthma and other environmental factors — such as air pollution or the food a mother eats before breastfeeding — or a child being delivered by C-section versus a vaginal birth.

The results could influence how parents and health professionals treat illnesses early in life, and it could also influence the choices parents make when raising their kids.  

The $12-million project is funded by Canadian Institutes of Health Research and AllerGen, a Canadian institute that focuses on allergic disease.

Canada mines dirty diapers for health clues
Scientists to study baby poo for clues to asthma and allergies in $12-million, Canada-wide project.