Anne Marie Zaura Jukic, PhD, MSPH

Assistant Professor of Epidemiology (Chronic Diseases)

Research Interests

Infertility, Female; Pregnancy; Reproduction

Public Health Interests

Epidemiology Methods; Perinatal Epidemiology; Pregnancy; Prenatal/Fetal Development; Reproductive Biology; Reproductive Health

Research Organizations

School of Public Health: Chronic Disease Epidemiology

Faculty Research

Research Summary

My research program is targeted towards understanding factors related to fertility, early pregnancy biology and pregnancy outcomes, with the ultimate goal of improving the health of women and children. My research interests have focused on 1) investigating environmental and nutritional exposures that can influence fertility or early pregnancy, 2) describing early pregnancy events that are poorly understood and investigating their associations with pregnancy outcomes, 3) developing high-quality and innovative research methods for perinatal epidemiologic research.

Extensive Research Description


Subfecundity (difficulty conceiving a pregnancy) is a pressing public health problem that affects approximately 6.7 million U.S. women with 1.5 million estimated to be infertile. Factors that affect fertility are not well-understood. I authored a paper investigating the associations of phthalates and bisphenol-a with reproductive health endpoints, including fertility (Jukic et al. 2016). We found no detrimental associations with these contaminants, which can be reassuring for women, since exposure to these chemicals is widespread. I also co-wrote a paper describing the change in fecundity with age (Steiner and Jukic, 2016). This is important, since our data suggest that fecundity decreases slowly, with substantial changes not occurring until after age 35. This is a significant observation, as the age at first pregnancy attempt is increasing in the U.S.

 

Vitamin D is hypothesized to influence both fertility and early pregnancy, making it an ideal exposure for someone with my background and interests. If vitamin D is important for reproductive function it would be easy to assess clinically, and serve as a low-cost intervention for regulating menstrual cycles and improving fertility. I have published two analyses showing a higher odds of irregular or long menstrual cycles in women with lower 25(OH)D (Jukic et al., 2015 and Jukic et al. 2016). These studies were completed using retrospective self-reported menstrual cycle length, thus a natural next step was to determine if these associations would persist with prospective data. I was awarded an R00 grant to investigate vitamin D and prospective menstrual cycle length, and also fecundability and early fetal growth. Results from the prospective study agree with the cross-sectional analyses, and suggest that lower vitamin D is associated with prolonged menstrual cycles (Jukic et al., in press). Additionally, analyses examining vitamin D status and 1) time to pregnancy, 2) circulating anti-Mullerian hormone, and 3) early fetal size, are in process.

 

Finally, my research aims to improve the quality of epidemiologic data collection and analysis. Specifically, I have investigated women’s long-term recall of time-to-pregnancy (Jukic et al., 2016), which is important for studies of chronic diseases, which often ask women to report their pregnancy histories in order to look for correlations between reproductive history and current health conditions. Similarly, I am mentoring a post-doctoral fellow who has investigated the quality of recall of pregnancy-related events, behaviors, and exposures (Chin et al, 2017). This analysis is particularly important for studies of in utero exposures and adult disease, as these studies are often based on asking the mothers about their behaviors during a pregnancy that happened many years prior. Our results suggest several considerations for designing these questionnaires. Finally, I have authored a review article that describes vitamin D metabolites and related proteins and provides guidance to researchers who are interested in vitamin D, but are unsure of which biomarkers are most appropriate (Jukic et al., in press). This article will be useful for epidemiologists in any field of study. This work can be used to inform future studies in the production of high-quality, reproducible, research results.

Selected Publications

Full List of PubMed Publications

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