Where you live can affect your fertility, new study reveals

As if infertility wasn’t unfair enough, a recent study by Oregan State University has found that those who live in deprived areas are less likely to conceive compared with those who live in more affluent areas

Researchers are said to have looked at areas based on their area deprivation index score that measures socioeconomic resources in a neighbourhood.

The study looked at something called fecundability which looks at the monthly probability of couples becoming pregnant, among those who are attempting conception without the use of fertility treatments.

Lead author, Mary Willis, a postdoctoral scholar at the OSU’s College of public health and human sciences said the world of fertility research is just starting to look at factors associated with the built environment.

She said: “There are dozens of studies looking at how your neighbourhood environment is associated with adverse birth outcomes, but the pre-conception period is heavily under-studied from a structural standpoint.

“Turns out, before you have even conceived, there may be things affecting your health.”

Researchers analysed 6,356 individuals ranging from 21 to 45 years old, attempting to conceive with the help of fertility treatment, in data compiled between 2013 and 2019.

The study participants filled out surveys every eight weeks for up to a year, answering questions about their menstrual cycle characteristics and pregnancy status. During the time the study was conducted, 3,725 pregnancies were recorded.

The study researchers compared participants across different area deprivation index rankings at both the national and within-state levels, which used socioeconomic indicators including educational attainment, housing, employment, and poverty.

They found that participants in the most-deprived neighborhoods based on the national rankings had a 19-21% reduction in fecundability compared with those in the least-deprived neighborhoods. Based on within-state rankings, the most-deprived neighborhoods saw a 23-25% reduction in fecundability compared with the least deprived areas.

The majority of people in the study were white, had completed a four-year college education, and earned more than $50,000 a year.

Mary Willis said: “The fact that we’re seeing the same results on the national and state level really shows that neighborhood deprivation can influence reproductive health, including fertility.”

To read the full study, click here to visit Science Daily.


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