The woman sent by government scientists visited the Queens apartment repeatedly before finding anyone home. And the person who finally answered the door — a 30-year-old Colombian-born waitress named Alejandra — was wary.
Although Alejandra was exactly what the scientists were looking for — a pregnant woman — she was “a bit scared,” she said, about giving herself and her unborn child to science for 21 years.
Researchers would collect and analyze her vaginal fluid, toenail clippings, breast milk and other things, and ask about everything from possible drug use to depression. At the birth, specimen collectors would scoop up her placenta and even her baby’s first feces for scientific posterity.