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The mission of the Epidemiology Branch (EB) includes research, professional service, and training. With regard to its research mission, the Branch conducts epidemiologic research focusing on reproductive, perinatal, and pediatric health endpoints to identify underlying etiologic mechanisms, at-risk subgroups, and interventions aimed at diagnosing or treating disease. Research initiatives utilize state-of-the-art methodologies for empirical investigation.
The Branch provides service to the NIH community, other governmental agencies, academic and research institutions, professional societies, and the general public on issues relevant to the mission of the NICHD. The Branch also supports the NIH training mission by participating in the summer intern and intramural research training award programs.
- Researchers compared labor patterns in contemporary practice in the Consortium on Safe Labor to approximately 50 years ago in the Collaborative Perinatal Project. Dr. Laughon and colleagues found that the first stage of labor, which is the time it takes for the cervix to fully dilate before pushing begins, increased by 2.6 hours for first-time mothers during this time frame. For women who had previously given birth, this early stage of labor took two hours longer in recent years than for women in the 1960s. (Laughon et al., American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology, 2012). PMID: 22542117
- The practice of inducing labor has doubled since 1990 in the United States. Dr. Laughon and colleagues investigated maternal and obstetrical characteristics of induction of labor in a recent obstetrical cohort in the United States, including reasons and methods for induction of labor and associated vaginal delivery rates. Researchers found that induced labor was common. Hypertensive disease, maternal conditions including diabetes, and fetal conditions were the most common indicated reasons for induction, while elective induction was frequent at term. For all reasons, cesarean delivery was more common in first time mothers in the latent compared to active phase of labor. Regardless of method, vaginal delivery rates were higher when the cervix was more favorable. (Laughon et al., American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology, 2012). PMID: 22520652