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Women's Health Group

Epidemiology of Reproductive Health

Donna D. Baird, Ph.D.
Donna D. Baird, Ph.D.
Principal Investigator, Epidemiology
Tel (919) 541-2786
Fax (919) 541-2511
P.O. Box 12233
Mail Drop A3-05
Research Triangle Park, North Carolina 27709
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Research Summary

The Women’s Health Group—headed by Donna D. Baird, Ph.D.—uses the tools of reproductive epidemiology to address women's reproductive health issues. It combines epidemiologic methods development with research of public health concern. This research has focused on:


  • fertility and early pregnancy
  • epidemiology of uterine fibroids


The Early Pregnancy Study, a longstanding collaboration between Baird, Clarice Weinberg, Ph.D., and Allen Wilcox, M.D., Ph.D., was a prospective cohort study conducted in the 1980s that was designed to determine the risk of early loss of pregnancy among healthy women. Participants collected daily urine specimens during the menstrual cycles when they were trying to conceive and also during the first eight weeks of gestation for those who became pregnant. Urine was analyzed for human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), estrogen and progesterone metabolites and luteinizing hormone (LH) to identify ovulation and implantation. These markers served as benchmarks for studying fecundability or fertility and corpus luteum rescue. The researchers have collaborated with the Centers for Disease Control to measure urinary biomarkers of exposure to bisphenol A and phthalates in order to investigate associations with the reproductive events of early pregnancy and outcomes of pregnancy for participants.


Baird and colleagues conducted the NIEHS Uterine Fibroid Study which screened randomly selected participants, 35-49 years of age, for fibroids using transvaginal ultrasound. The collaborators described the prevalence of these tumors in black and white women (Baird et al., 2003) and are analyzing the data to identify risk factors. As in laboratory animal studies of fibroids (Walker et al., 2001), parity is protective, and the group hypothesized that postpartumuterine remodeling could clear existing lesions from the myometrium (Baird et al, 2003). Also, confirming laboratory animal studies, they found an increased risk associated with prenatal diethystilbestrol (DES) exposure (Baird and Newbold, 2005). Study participants were followed to assess the health consequences of fibroids, with a final follow-up being completed in 2005. Other fibroid research includes describing fibroid growth and postpartum uterine regression.


Baird and colleagues are currently conducting a large prospective study of uterine fibroids, the Study of Environment, Lifestyle & Fibroids (SELF). African-American women in the Detroit, Michigan area, aged 23-34, who have not been diagnosed with fibroids are being enrolled. Ultrasound is used to determine their fibroid status at enrollment. Further ultrasound examinations over a 5-year follow-up will identify new fibroids and provide measures of fibroid growth. Risk factors for fibroid incidence and growth will be identified.


Baird received a B.A. from Macalester College, a Ph.D. in evolutionary ecology from the University of Minnesota and an M.P.H. in epidemiology from the School of Public Health, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She did a postdoctoral fellowship at the Center for Biopolitical Research at Northern Illinois University and a year at the Biological Sciences Curriculum Study before coming to NIEHS in 1983. Baird currently serves as a Principal Investigator at NIEHS.


  • Dietary Soy Study

  • Early Pregnancy Study 
    The Early Pregnancy Study provides a detailed look at ovulation, conception and early pregnancy for a group of 221 women who provided daily diary and urine specimens before and during early pregnancy.

  • Fibroid Growth Study
    The Fibroid Growth Study examines the variation in fibroid growth, the biological differences between growing and non-growing fibroids and the relationship between fibroid growth and symptom severity.

  • Postpartum Uterine Regression Study
    The Postpartum Uterine Regression Study documents any fibroids present in early to mid-pregnancy and measures fibroid size after postpartum uterine regression. Investigators hypothesize that small fibroids will have disappeared, and large fibroids will remain essentially unchanged in size.

  • Uterine Fibroid Study
    The Uterine Fibroid Study was designed to determine the prevalence of fibroids, identify risk factors for fibroids, identify biological changes in tumor tissue and describe women's experience of symptoms and their change over time.

  • Study of Environment, Lifestyle & Fibroids 
    SELF is designed to prospectively identify risk factors for fibroid development including both new tumorigenesis and fibroid growth.

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Selected Publications

  1. Baird DD, Weinberg CR, McConnaughey DR, Wilcox AJ. Rescue of the corpus luteum in normal human pregnancy. Biol Reprod 2003 68:448-456. [Abstract ( ] [PDF ( ]
  2. Wegienka G, Baird DD, Hirtz-Picciotto I, Harlow SD, Steege JF, Hill MC, Schectman JM, Hartmann KE. Self-reported heavy bleeding associated with uterine leiomyomata. Obstet Gynecol 2003 101:431-437. [Abstract ( ]
  3. Baird DD, Dunson DB, Hill MC, Cousins D, Schectman JM. High cumulative incidence of uterine leiomyoma in black and white women: Ultrasound evidence. Am J Obstet. Gynecol 2003 188:100-107. [Abstract ( ] [Full Text ( ] [PDF ( ]
  4. Baird DD. Invited commentary: Uterine leiomyomata–We know so little but could learn so much. Am J Epidemiol 2004 159:124-126. [Abstract ( ] [download the PDF ( ]
  5. Baird DD, Newbold RN. Prenatal diethylstilbestrol (DES) exposure is associated with uterine leiomyoma development. Reprod Tox 2005 20:81-84. [Abstract ( ] [PDF ( ]
  6. Wilcox AJ, Skjaerven R, Baird DD. Men's body mass index and reduced fertility: A nationwide population-based study. Human Reproduction (Oxford, England) 2007 9:2488-2493. [Abstract ( ]
  7. Jukic AMZ, Weinberg CW, Baird DD, Wilcox AJ. Life-study and reproductive factors associated with follicular phase length. Journal of women's health (2002) 2007 16(9):1340-1347. [Abstract ( ]
  8. Baird DD, Travlos G. Obesity and insulin-like growth factor-I in African Americans and whites. Cancer epidemiology, biomarkers & prevention : a publication of the American Association for Cancer Research, cosponsored by the American Society of Preventive Oncology 2007 16(7):1526-1526. [Abstract ( ]
  9. Jukic AMZ, Weinberg C, Wilcox AJ, McConnaughey DR, Hornsby PP, Baird DD. Accuracy of reporting of menstrual cycle length. American journal of epidemiology 2008 167(1):25-33. [Abstract ( ]
  10. Nepomnaschy PA, Weinberg CR, Wilcox AJ, Baird DD. Urinary hCG patterns during the week following implantation. Hum Reprod 2008;23:271-7. Epub 2008 Dec 14. [Abstract ( ]
  11. Peddada SD, Laughlin S, Miner K, Guyon JP, Haneke K, Vahdat HL, Smelka RC, Kowalik A, Armao D, Davis B, Baird DD. Growth of uterine leiomyomata among premenopausal black and white women. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 2008 105(50):19887-19892. [Abstract ( ]
  12. Steiner AZ, Baird DD, Kesner JS. Mother's menopausal age is a predictor for her daughter's early follicular phase urinary follicle-stimulating hormone level. Menopause 2008 15(5):940-944. [Abstract ( ]
  13. Laughlin SK, Baird DD, Savitz DA, Herring AH, Hartmann KE. Prevalence of uterine leiomyomas in the first trimester of pregnancy: an ultrasound-screening study. Obstetrics and gynecology 2009 113(3):630-635. [Abstract ( ]
  14. Baird DD, Travlos G, Wilson R, Dunson DB, Hill MC, D’Aloisio AA, London SJ, Schectman JM. Uterine leiomyomata in relation to insulin-like growth factor-I, insulin, and diabetes. Epidemiology. 2009; 20(4):604-610. [Abstract ( ]
  15. Nepomnaschy PA, Baird DD, Weinberg CR, Hoppin JA, Longnecker MP, Wilcox AJ. Within-person variability in urinary bisphenol A concentrations: Measurement from specimens after long-term frozen storage. Environmental research 109(6):734-737, 2009. [Abstract ( ]
  16. Vines AI, Baird DD. Stress of caring for children: the role of perceived racism. Journal of the National Medical Association 2009 101(2):156-160. [Abstract ( ]
  17. Vines AI, Ta M, Esserman D, Baird DD. A comparison of the occurrence and perceived stress of major life events in black and white women. Women & health 2009 49(5):368-380. [Abstract ( ]
  18. Baird DD. The Gestational Timing of Pregnancy Loss: Adaptive Strategy? American journal of human biology 2009 21(6):725-727 [Abstract ( ]
  19. Hasan R, Baird DD, Herring AH, Olshan AF, Jonsson Funk ML, Hartmann KE.  Association between first-trimester vaginal bleeding and miscarriage. Obstet Gynecol 114(4):860-867, 2009. [Abstract ( ]
  20. D'Aloisio AA, Poole C, North KE, Baird DD. IGF1 and IGFBP3 polymorphisms and plasma levels in women. Cancer epidemiology, biomarkers & prevention 2009 18(10):2795-.
  21. Dragomir AD, Schroeder JC, Connolly AM, Kupper LL, Cousins DS, Olshan AF, Baird DD. Uterine leiomyomata associated with self-reported stress urinary incontinence. Journal of women's health (Larchmt) 2010 19(2):245-250. [Abstract ( ]
  22. Baird DD, Saldana TM, Nepomnaschy PA, Hoppin JA, Longnecker MP, Weinberg CR, Wilcox AJ. Within-person variability in urinary phthalate metabolite concentrations: Measurements from specimens after long-term frozen storage. Journal of exposure science & environmental epidemiology 20(2):169-175, 2010. [Abstract ( ]
  23. D'Aloisio AA, Baird DD, DeRoo LA, Sandler DP. Association of intrauterine and early-life exposures with diagnosis of uterine leiomyomata by 35 years of age in the Sister Study. Environmental health perspectives 2010; 118(3):375-381. [Abstract ( ]
  24. Plante BJ, Cooper GS, Baird DD, Steiner AZ. The impact of smoking on antimüllerian hormone levels in women ages 38-50 years. Menopause (New York, N.Y.) 2010 17(3):571-576. [Abstract ( ]
  25. Laughlin SK, Schroeder JC, Baird DD. New directions in the epidemiology of uterine fibroids. Seminars in reproductive medicine 2010 28(3):204-217. [Abstract ( ]
  26. Steiner AZ, D'Aloisio A, DeRoo L, Sandler D, Baird DD. Association of Intrauterine and Early Life Exposures with Age at Menopause in the Sister Study. American Journal of Epidemology 172(2):140-148, 2010. [Abstract ( ]
  27. Ye X, Skjaerven R, Basso O, Baird DD, Eggesbo M, Uicab LA, Haug K, Longnecker MP. In Utero Exposure to Tobacco Smoking and Subsequent Reduced Fertility in Females. Human reproduction (Oxford, England) 25(11):2901-2906, 2010. [Abstract ( ]
  28. Jukic AMZ, Weinberg CR, Wilcox AJ, Baird DD. Effects of early pregnancy loss on hormone levels in the subsequent menstrual cycle. Gynecological endocrinology 2010 26(12):897-901. [Abstract ( ]
  29. Dragomir AD, Schroeder JC, Connolly A, Kupper LL, Hill MC, Olshan AF, Baird DD. Risk Factors Associated with Subtypes of Uterine Leiomyomata. Reproductive Sciences 2010 17(11):1029-1035. [Abstract ( ]
  30. Laughlin SK, Herring AH, Savitz DA, Olshan AF, Fielding JR, Hartmann KE, Baird DD.  Pregnancy-related fibroid reduction.  Fertil Steril 94(6):2421-2423, 2010. [Abstract ( ]
  31. Baird DD, Garrett TA, Laughlin SK, Davis B, Semelka RC, Peddada SD. Short-term change in growth of uterine leiomyoma: tumor growth spurts. Fertility and sterility 2011 95(1):242-246. [Abstract ( ]
  32. Jukic AMZ, Weinberg CR, Baird DD, Wilcox AJ. The association of maternal factors with delayed implantation and the initial rise of urinary human chorionic gonadotropin. Human Reproduction 2011 26(4):920-926. [Abstract ( ]
  33. Steiner AZ, Herring AH, Kesner JS, Meadows JW, Stanczyk FZ, Hoberman S, Baird DD. Antimüllerian hormone as a predictor of natural fecundability in women aged 30-42 years. Obstetrics and gynecology 2011 117(4):798-804. [Abstract ( ]
  34. Meadows KL, Andrews DM, Xu Z, Carswell GK, Laughlin SK, Baird DD, Taylor JA. Genome-wide analysis of loss of heterozygosity and copy number amplification in uterine leiomyomas using 100K single nucleotide polymorphism array. Experimental and molecular pathology 2011 91(1):434-9. [Abstract ( ]
  35. Eggesbø M, Moen B , Peddada S, Baird D, Rugtveit J, Midtvedt T , Bushel PR , Sekelja M , Rudi K. Development of gut microbiota in infants not exposed to medical interventions.. APMIS 2011 119(1):17-35. [Abstract ( ]
  36. Whitworth KW, Baird DD, Stene LC, Skjaerven R, Longnecker MP. Fecundability among women with Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes in the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study. Diabetologia 54(3):516-522, 2011. [Abstract ( ]
  37. Laughlin SK, Hartmann KE, Baird DD.  Postpartum factors and natural fibroid regression. Am J Obstet Gynecol 204:496-498, 2011. [Abstract ( ]
  38. Whitworth KW, Haug LS, Baird DD, Becher G, Hoppin JA, Skjaerven R, Thomsen C, Eggesbo M, Travlos G, Wilson R, Cupul-Uicab LA, Brantsaeter AL, Longnecker MP. Perfluorinated Compounds in Relation to Birth Weight in the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study. American journal of epidemiology 2012 175(12):1209-1216. [Abstract ( ]
  39. Myers SL, Baird DD, Olshan AF, Herring AH, Schroeder JC, Nylander-French LA, Hartmann KE. Self-reported versus ultrasound measurement of uterine fibroid status. Journal of women's health (2002) 2012 21(3):285-293. [Abstract ( ]
  40. D'Aloisio AA, Baird DD, DeRoo LA, Sandler DP. Early-life exposures and early onset uterine leiomyomata in black women in the Sister Study. Environmental health perspectives 2012 120(3):406-412. [Abstract ( ]
  41. Buckley JP, Palmieri RT, Matuszewski JM, Herring AH, Baird DD, Hartmann KE, Hoppin JA. Consumer product exposures associated with urinary phthalate levels in pregnant women. Journal of Exposure Science & Environmental Epidemiology 2012 22(5):468-75.  [Abstract ( ]
  42. Velez Edwards DR, Baird DD, Hasan R, Savitz DA, Hartmann KE.  First-trimester bleeding characteristics associate with increased risk of preterm birth:  data from a prospective pregnancy cohort.  Hum Reprod 27(1):54-60, 2012. [Abstract ( ]
  43. Baird DD, Steiner AZ.  Anti-Müllerian hormone:  A potential new tool in epidemiologic studies of female fecundability.  Am J Epidemiol 175(4):245-249, 2012. [Abstract ( ]
  44. Mukherjee S, Velez-Edwards DR, Baird DD, Savitz DA, Hartman KE.  Risk of miscarriage among black and white women in a U.S. prospective cohort study.  Am J Epidemiol, 177(11):1271-1278, 2013.
  45. Baird DD, Hill MC, Schectman JM, Hollis BW. Vitamin d and the risk of uterine fibroids. Epidemiology (Cambridge, Mass.) 2013 24(3):447-453. [Abstract ( ]
  46. Saldana TM, Moshesh MK, Baird DD. Self-reported family history of leiomyoma: not a reliable marker of high risk. Annals of epidemiology 2013 23(5):286-290. [Abstract ( ]
  47. White RA, Bjørnholt J, Baird DD, Midtvedt T, Harris JR, Pagano M, Hide W, Rudi K, Moen B, Iszatt N, Peddada SD, Eggesbø M. Novel Developmental Analyses Identify Longitudinal Patterns of Early Gut Microbiota that Affect Infant Growth. PLoS Computational Biology 2013 9(5):e1003042. [Abstract ( ]
  48. Davis B, Risinger J , Chandramouli G, Pierre P, Baird D, Peddada S. Gene Expression in Uterine Leiomyoma from Tumors Likely to Be Growing (from Black Women over 35) and Tumors Likely to Be Non-Growing (from White Women over 35). PloS One 2013 8(6):e63909. [Abstract ( ]
  49. Jukic AMZ, Baird DD, Weinberg CR, McConnaughey DR, Wilcox AJ. Length of human pregnancy and contributors to its natural variation. Human reproduction (Oxford, England) 28(10):2848-2855, 2013. [Abstract ( ]
  50. Starling AP, Engel SM, Whitworth KW, Richardson DB, Stuebe AM, Daniels JL, Haug LS, Eggesbø M, Becher G, Sabaredzovic A, Thomsen C, Wilson RE, Travlos GS, Hoppin JA, Baird DD, Longnecker MP. Perfluoroalkyl substances and lipid concentrations in plasma during pregnancy among women in the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study. Environment international 2014 62(January):104-112.  [Abstract ( ]

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