How low birth weight affects future fertility

Newborn baby by <a hret="">Nina Matthews Photography at <a href="

Girls who are born unexpectedly small or underweight are twice as likely to have fertility challenges in adulthood than those born at normal size. With advances in medicine, more underweight babies are surviving into adulthood. This could mean the prevalence of infertility for women could rise.

Infertility more than twice as likely in underweight female babies

The research team assessed data from 1,293 women in Sweden who sought infertility treatment from 2005 to 2010. The women studied were found to have the condition that brought about their inability to conceive (female factor infertility). Their findings revealed that women in this group were nearly 2.5 times more likely to have been born underweight, compared to those whose infertility was due to male factor. The team also found that the women were nearly three times as likely to have been born small compared to those couples whose infertility was unexplained.

Not understood why this happens

It’s hard to know why this may occur. Study authors assert that growth restriction in utero could affect how reproductive organs develop. There is some previous research which supports this theory.

More research to be done

This study was small and geographically limited. More research will show whether or not this should be a concern and an indicator for a future with more prevalent female infertility. “As medical research and care advances, more infants will be born [with low birth weight or small size] and survive, which in turn might influence future need of infertility treatment,” concluded the report. “Thus, infants born with birth characteristics that deviate from the norm may be at greater risk of difficulties in childbearing later on in life. Since this study is the first of its kind, more studies are needed to verify the associations.”

Source: MedicalNewsToday, BMJ Open
Photo: Newborn baby by Nina Matthews Photography at


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