Food and Fertility

Early-life diet influences fertility, according to new study

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Reproductive capacity in both men and women is influenced by foods eaten in early-life stages, according to a new study.

The study, led by Dr Ian Rickard from the Department of Animal and Plant Sciences at the University of Sheffield, marks the first study to show that early-life food can have a profound impact on fertility. Researchers looked at a combination of church-record data on births in 18th century Finland and agricultural data on crop yields of rye and barley from the same time and place.

They found that about half of the poor people who were born in a year in which both rye and barley harvests were low did not reproduce. Almost everyone from a poor family born in bumper-crop years, in which both rye and barley were high, would reproduce at least one time.

"Our results show that the food received by children born into poor families had an influence on their later reproductive success," said Rickard. "These results have implications for our understanding of early environmental effects on human and animal health and will help shed light on our current understanding of fertility and whether it is influenced by individual or social factors."

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Review Date: 
December 21, 2010
Last Updated:
December 21, 2010