Skip to main content
University of Wisconsin–Madison

A New Window into Human Reproduction

This project merges the tools of data science and formal demography to follow several million women on the journey into conception and through the early months of pregnancy. The research will provide some of the first estimates of large-scale population variability in the pathway to live birth.

Human reproduction is limited in critical ways by conception failures and pregnancy losses. Conception and early pregnancy loss are extremely difficult to observe in populations. Pregnant women without health complications begin arriving in clinics for prenatal care in the seventh to twelfth week of pregnancy. Some women arrive later, unaware that a pregnancy has begun or because of limited access to prenatal care. As a result, the early part of pregnancy is largely hidden from researchers. This early window is when much about the success of a pregnancy is determined.

This project aggregates information from day-to-day tracking of menstrual cycles, sexual activity, ovulation, and conception through cell and tablet devices with information about the physical, social and economic environments in which women and their partners live.


  • Jenna Nobles
    Professor of Sociology


  • Deborah Ehrenthal
    Associate Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Robert Nowak
    Professor of Engineering