University of Michigan School of Public Health doctoral student Kelly Ferguson received the Excellence in Research Award for Students and was subsequently featured in the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation’s (BCBSM) 2014 annual report.
Ferguson’s dissertation research looked at the relationship between mothers’ exposure to chemicals during pregnancy and their risk of having a premature birth.
“Mothers are exposed to a multitude of chemicals during pregnancy, including phthalates. My research findings published in JAMA Pediatrics demonstrated that women who were exposed to phthalates while pregnant were at increased risk of delivering prematurely,” explained Dr. Ferguson. She notes that the findings may be particularly consequential, as behavioral modification may be effective in reducing maternal exposure.
“More broadly, this study shows the importance of the environment in the etiology of premature birth,” she said.
The BCBSM award program recognizes students for their contributions to the research literature and for their potential to make contributions to health care.
Dr. Ferguson is now a research assistant professor in Michagan’s department of environmental health sciences.