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Your Environment. Your Health.

Fertility and Reproductive Health Group

Epidemiology, Environment, & Reproduction

Table of Contents
Anne Marie Z. Jukic
Anne Marie Z. Jukic, Ph.D.
Tel 984-287-3699
P.O. Box 12233
Mail Drop A3-05
Durham, N.C. 27709

Research Summary

The Fertility and Reproductive Health Group is led by Anne Marie Z. Jukic, Ph.D., and focuses on factors that influence reproductive function (e.g. follicle development and menstrual cycles), conception, implantation, placental development, and pregnancy outcomes. Given the financial and emotional burden of subfertility and pregnancy loss, this research has broad and immediate public health relevance.

This research group has used data from both internal and external collaborations. For example, The Early Pregnancy Study (EPS), established by NIEHS Senior Investigator Allen Wilcox, M.D., Ph.D., is a prospective cohort study of women attempting pregnancy. Daily urine specimens from the study have been analyzed for several reproductive hormones and environmental toxicants. In 2010 we completed a follow-up of EPS participants and used that information combined with the original study to assess participant recall (Jukic, 2016; Chin 2017) and to examine length of gestation (Jukic, 2013). We have collaborated with the Centers for Disease Control to measure urinary biomarkers of exposure to Bisphenol-A (BPA) and phthalates to investigate associations with fertility, early pregnancy, and pregnancy outcomes (Jukic, 2016). Future studies are being planned to investigate phenols, other than BPA, and metabolomics.

Vitamin D is known as the “sunlight vitamin” because it is synthesized in the skin in response to ultraviolet radiation. Together with NIEHS Senior Investigator Donna Baird, Ph.D., we examined vitamin D and menstrual cycle length in both the Uterine Fibroid Study (UFS) (Jukic, 2015) and the Study of Environment, Lifestyle & Fibroids (SELF) (Jukic, 2016). We found that women with lower 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25OHD) were more likely to have long or irregular menstrual cycles. We followed up on these observations by collaborating with the Time to Conceive study at the University of North Carolina, a prospective time-to-pregnancy cohort that enrolled participants from 2008 to 2015 (Steiner and Jukic, 2016). Using data, blood spots, and serum samples from this study, we examined the role of vitamin D in female reproductive function (Jukic 2018; Jukic, 2018). We found that women with lower 25OHD were more likely to have prolonged menstrual cycles and delayed ovulation. We are currently following up on these results with a clinical trial.

Implantation and early placental function may be crucial indicators of pregnancy health. An ongoing collaboration with researchers in Norway aims to better understand how measures of placental health — for example, placental weight or human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) — are related to subsequent pregnancy outcomes, such as preeclampsia and cerebral palsy (Dypvik 2017, Eskild, 2018). We also investigate how exposures, such as smoking, affect placental development (Larsen, 2018).

Jukic received her B.S. from the University of Notre Dame, an M.S.P.H. from Emory University, and her Ph.D. in epidemiology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She completed a postdoctoral fellowship at NIEHS and was an Assistant Professor at the Yale School of Public Health before joining NIEHS as a Principal Investigator.

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