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The mission of the Epidemiology Branch (EB) is to:
- Design and conduct investigator-initiated and collaborative epidemiologic research focusing on reproductive, perinatal, and pediatric health endpoints to identify etiologic mechanisms, at risk subgroups, and interventions aimed at maximizing health and preventing, diagnosing and/or treating disease.
- Provide service to the Division, Institute, NIH, DHHS, and the profession via consultation, collaboration, and assistance to advance the scientific discipline of epidemiology and the goals of the Institute.
- Recruit highly qualified students and trainees at various stages of their careers to position them for professional careers in reproductive, perinatal and pediatric epidemiologic research.
To explore DIPHR's data sharing opportunities, please visit our
Biospecimen Repository and Data Sharing (BRADS) site.
Postdoctoral Fellowship in Epidemiology Branch (PDF - 117 KB)
Podcast on Benefits of Vaginal Delivery Even After Prolonged Labor
Features the Epidemiology Branch's Katherine Laughon
- Maternal obesity is associated with adverse outcomes for both the mother and child. Evidence has been accumulating that maternal obesity may also impact longterm neurodevelopment of children. Researchers investigated the gross motor development of children in infancy with respect to maternal obesity in the Upstate KIDS study, a longitudinal birth cohort from New York State (excluding New York City). Based on maternal report of achievement of six gross motor milestones reported at 4, 8, 12, 18, and 24 months of age, Dr. Yeung and her colleagues found that marginal delays were detected in time to achieve sitting without support and crawling on hands and knees among infants whose mothers were obese (pre-pregnancy BMI>30) compared to those who were not (BMI<25). However, no detectable differences were observed for standing or walking milestones. These findings suggest that there may be small differences in early gross motor development. Future studies will evaluate whether there is lasting impact from exposure to maternal obesity on other neurodevelopmental measures. (Obesity 2015,
- Identifying biomarkers for preeclampsia, a common pregnancy complication with significant morbidity, remains important. Copeptin, a surrogate biomarker of vasopressin (also known as antidiuretic hormone), has been associated with renal function decline and may serve as a useful early biomarker for preeclampsia. Researchers measured serum copeptin using samples collected longitudinally during pregnancy among unaffected controls and cases of preeclampsia and other pregnancy complications in the Calcium for Preeclampsia Prevention trial (1992-1995). Dr. Yeung and her colleagues found that serum copeptin, measured on average at 16 weeks gestation, is elevated among pregnant women prior to the clinical diagnosis of preeclampsia. They found that this elevation was specific to preeclampsia with no differences in cases of gestational hypertension, gestational diabetes or preterm birth compared to controls. These findings published in
Hypertension suggest that the mechanistic link between vasopressin and preeclampsia deserves further exploration.
- 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).
- Epidemiologic studies have shown that diets high in added sugars, particularly in liquid form, result in an increased risk for dyslipidemia and insulin resistance, well-known risk factors for hormone and ovulatory disorders. While animal models have shown that sugar-sweetened beverages increase estradiol levels, there have been no adequately powered prospective studies in humans assessing the relationship between dietary intake and reproductive hormones. Researchers found that women who consumed on average one cup or more of sugar-sweetened beverage per day had 16% higher total estradiol and 13% total free estradiol compared to women who consumed less after adjusting for age, BMI, diet and physical activity, but found no statistically significant association between sugar-sweetened beverages and sporadic anovulation.
- A hopeful message to women who are complicated by gestational diabetes in pregnancy. Although they are at exceptionally high risk for developing type 2 diabetes after pregnancy, adapting a healthful dietary pattern may lower the risk substantially. Dr. Cuilin Zhang and her colleagues found that women adhered most closely to these diet patterns (Mediterranean diet, DASH diet, or Healthy Eating Index; scores in the top 25 percent) lowered their risk for type 2 diabetes more than 40% when compared to the least compliant group (lowest 25 percent) (Archives of Internal Medicine. 2012, 172(20):1566-72.
- Do newborns have more complications when mom has asthma? In an original research article published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology [http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jaci.2013.06.012
], Mendola et al. hypothesized that the newborns of asthmatic mothers would experience more complications compared to newborns whose mothers did not have asthma. The study team analyzed electronic medical record data from a large contemporary obstetric cohort, the Consortium on Safe Labor (2002-2008), with 223,512 singleton deliveries at ≥ 23 weeks of gestation including more than 17,000 pregnancies complicated by maternal asthma. Risk was increased for preterm delivery at each week after 33 completed weeks of gestation; as well as for growth restriction; neonatal intensive care unit admission; jaundice; and breathing complications including respiratory distress syndrome, transient tachypnea of the newborn, and asphyxia. This study highlights a connection between maternal asthma and neonatal health, showing that maternal asthma is associated with a broader set of neonatal complications than previously thought.