Dr Laura Oakley

Associate Professor & Programme Director

United Kingdom

I am an epidemiologist focusing on maternal, reproductive and child health. My main interests are the epidemiology of infertility, ill-health during pregnancy and adverse perinatal outcomes, the effects of in-utero exposures on infant and child health, and infant feeding.
After an undergraduate degree in Sociology (London School of Economics) I spent several years working as a researcher on adolescent health at the Centre for Research in Primary Community Care, University of Hertfordshire. Following that, I completed a MSc in Epidemiology at LSHTM. My PhD, also completed at LSHTM, focused on the determinants of infertility in women and involved secondary analysis of two datasets. Between 2009 and 2014 I worked as a researcher at the National Perinatal Epidemiology Unit (University of Oxford) on a number of projects relating to infant mortality, maternity care, and breastfeeding.
I hold an affiliated researcher position at the Centre for Fertility and Health (CeFH), Norwegian Institute of Public Health (Oslo, Norway) (…).


Department of Non-communicable Disease Epidemiology
Faculty of Epidemiology and Population Health


Centre for Maternal Adolescent Reproductive & Child Health


I am currently co Programme Director for the Epidemiology by Distance Learning (DL) programme. I teach across various DL and intensive (London-based) MSc modules, including Fundamentals of Epidemiology (DL), Basic Epidemiology, Foundations of Reproductive Health, and Research, Design and Analysis. I am a personal tutor for MSc Reproductive and Sexual Health Research (RSHR) and MSc Epidemiology (intensive), and I supervise projects for RSHR and Epidemiology MSc programmes.


My research is focussed on using epidemiological methods to address key policy-relevant etiological questions relating to ill-health in pregnancy and fertility, using both interventional and observational designs, mainly but not exclusively in high-income countries.

Through my affiliation with CeFH in Norway, I have researched pressing issues in perinatal epidemiology using the exceptional national routine data linkages available. Since 2020 I have had a key role in a Scandinavian collaboration looking at Covid-19 and pregnancy (Nordforsk-funded SCOPE 1 and 2 projects) which has been at the forefront of addressing knowledge gaps about Covid-19 and pregnancy. I am a named collaborator on a Research Council of Norway funded programme of work looking at assisted conception and cancer risk, for which I am leading registry-based analyses.

I am involved in the British National Surveys of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles (Natsal), currently co-leading the Reproductive Health working group for Natsal-4.

I am the lead epidemiologist for a programme of work on pregnancy in women living with sickle cell disease, and I was co-investigator for a recently completed NIHR-funded feasibility RCT assessing treatment options for this population.
I have a long-standing interest in the socio-economic determinants of breastfeeding in low-, middle- and high-income countries. I am currently supervising a doctoral student who is investigating the association between breastfeeding and educational outcomes using cohort data from sub-Saharan Africa.
Research Area
Perinatal health
Sexual and reproductive health
Maternal health
Health inequalities
Pregnancy care management
United Kingdom
European Union

Selected Publications

Effects of exclusive breastfeeding on educational attainment and longitudinal trajectories of grade progression among children in a 13-year follow-up study in Malawi.
MOHAMMED, S; WEBB, EL; Calvert, C; GLYNN, JR; Sunny, BS; CRAMPIN, AC; MCLEAN, E; Munthali-Mkandawire, S; Lazarous Nkhata Dube, A; Kalobekamo, F; MARSTON, M; OAKLEY, LL;
Scientific reports
Contraceptive use and pregnancy planning in Britain during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic: findings from a large, quasi-representative survey (Natsal-COVID).
Baxter, AJ; Geary, RS; Dema, E; Bosó Pérez, R; Riddell, J; Willis, M; Conolly, A; OAKLEY, LL; Copas, AJ; Gibbs, J; BONELL, C; Sonnenberg, P; Mercer, CH; Clifton, S; Field, N; Mitchell, K;
BMJ sexual & reproductive health
Fetal death after the introduction of COVID-19 mitigation measures in Sweden, Denmark and Norway: a registry-based study.
Magnus, MC; OAKLEY, LL; Hansen, AV; Örtqvist, AK; Petersen, TG; Mortensen, LH; Bliddal, M; Andersen, A-MN; Stephansson, O; Håberg, SE;
Scientific reports
Pregnancy and risk of COVID-19: a Norwegian registry-linkage study.
Magnus, MC; OAKLEY, L; Gjessing, HK; Stephansson, O; Engjom, HM; Macsali, F; Juliusson, PB; Nybo Andersen, A-M; Håberg, SE;
BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics & Gynaecology
Preterm birth after the introduction of COVID-19 mitigation measures in Norway, Sweden, and Denmark: a registry-based difference-in-differences study.
OAKLEY, LL; Örtqvist, AK; Kinge, J; Hansen, AV; Petersen, TG; Söderling, J; Telle, KE; Magnus, MC; Mortensen, LH; Nybo Andersen, A-M; Stephansson, O; Håberg, SE;
American journal of obstetrics and gynecology
Educational films for improving screening and self-management of gestational diabetes in India and Uganda (GUIDES): study protocol for a cluster-randomised controlled trial.
OAKLEY, LL; R, D; Namara, A; Sahu, B; Nadal, IP; Ana, Y; Coombe, H; Oteng-Ntim, E; SEELEY, J; NYIRENDA, M; Babu, G; KINRA, S;
Childhood seizures after prenatal exposure to maternal influenza infection: a population-based cohort study from Norway, Australia and Canada.
OAKLEY, LL; Regan, AK; Fell, DB; Spruin, S; Bakken, IJ; Kwong, JC; Pereira, G; Nassar, N; Aaberg, KM; Wilcox, AJ; Håberg, SE;
Archives of Disease in Childhood
Does first-trimester serum pregnancy-associated plasma protein A differ in pregnant women with sickle cell disease?
Peeva, G; OAKLEY, L; Von Rège, I; Nicolaides, K; Oteng-Ntim, E;
Prenatal Diagnosis
Early breastfeeding practices: Descriptive analysis of recent Demographic and Health Surveys.
Maternal & child nutrition
See more information