Reproductive Epidemiology

Which factors determine health and disease in mothers and children before, during and after pregnancy?

Shortly before and during pregnancy a vulnerability develops that may lead to diseases or malformations in the child. These may be present already at birth or they may manifest later in life. Our research primarily focusses on the most important factors that may influence the health and diseases in children and their mothers.

In particular, we focus on the following risk factors:

  • smoking as well as alcohol and coffee consumption before and during pregnancy
  • use of medication before and during pregnancy
  • environmental toxins
  • maternal obesity
  • maternal occupation
  • diseases in the family

We are especially interested in determining the causes of the following conditions in the offspring:

  • malformations
  • obesity
  • reduced sperm quality in boys
  • premature puberty
  • spontaneous abortion
  • cardiovascular risk factors
  • non-specific symptoms

Moreover, we also study causes of reduced maternal and paternal fertility.

If we obtain more precise knowledge on how behavioural patterns before and during pregnancy may influence the health and development of diseases in the mother and child, we will be able to improve the possibilities of offering qualified counselling to pregnant women. Moreover, it will improve fertility treatment in women or couples who have difficulties getting pregnant.


  • Age at sexual maturity - causes and consequences (PredicPub): A study among approximately 14,000 children in the cohort The Danish National Birth Cohort, which is the foundation of a long list of studies on causes and consequences of changes in age at puberty onset.
  • Predictors and consequences of physical and psychological symptoms in children: Studies within The Danish National Birth Cohort to shed light on possible causes of children reporting non-specific symptoms and the associations between these symptoms and the children's contact with the health services.
  • The importance of prenatal exposure to environmental toxins to the development of children (Fetotox): Based on biological samples from mothers in the cohorts The Danish National Birth Cohort and the Aarhus Birth Cohort, we examine the role of environmental toxins on the ability to get pregnant and the consequences for the growth and later development of the child.
  • Predictors and consequences of metabolic disorders: Based on biological samples from both the pregnant mothers and the 20-year-old children in the Aarhus Birth Cohort from cohort 88/89, we examine both predictors for the adult child's metabolism as well as consequences of disturbances in the mother's metabolism during pregnancy and the growth and health of the child later in life.

Scientific milestones

  • Establishment of cohorts (e.g. The Danish National Birth Cohort, The Puberty Cohort and The Aarhus Birth Cohort Biobank)
  • Establishment of the Aarhus ReproEpi network
  • Hosting the first PhD course in Reproductive Epidemiology at Aarhus University, December 2016
  • Large grants from, among others, The Independent Research Fund Denmark and the European Union


  • Register-based research: Access to the national registers with data on the health of each citizen, social conditions and use of health services, is an important basis of our research.
  • The Danish National Birth Cohort: A database including 100,000 pregnant women and their offspring providing unique opportunities to obtain detailed knowledge of e.g. maternal diet, lifestyle habits, occupation, medication use, smoking habits and stress during pregnancy. In addition, data on participants are continuously collected, which makes it possible to study participants in a life-long perspective.
  • Epidemiological methods: We are constantly working on developing our methods to analyse data and interpret the results.