Scientists find health disorders linked to childlessness

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A recent study published in Nature Human Behaviour has shed light on the strong association between certain health conditions and the likelihood of childlessness in adults.

Conducted by Aoxing Liu, Ph.D., from the University of Helsinki and colleagues, this extensive research analyzed the health and reproductive histories of over 2.5 million individuals in Finland and Sweden, offering significant insights into factors influencing childlessness.

The study focused on men born between 1956 and 1968 and women born between 1956 and 1973 in Finland, as well as individuals born in Sweden, following them through to the end of their reproductive lifespan in 2018.

The researchers used a detailed approach, employing both population data and a case-control design that compared siblings who had children with those who did not.

This method allowed for the study of 414 diseases across 16 categories and how they correlate with childlessness.

One of the key findings of the study was the strong association of childlessness with mental-behavioral disorders, particularly among men.

Congenital anomalies and endocrine-nutritional-metabolic disorders were also strongly linked, especially among women. Interestingly, the study uncovered new associations between childlessness and inflammatory and autoimmune diseases.

The researchers noted that the age at which these diseases first appeared played a crucial role in their impact on reproductive choices or possibilities.

Additionally, factors such as being single and the level of education were identified as mediators in these associations.

Liu and his team emphasized the comprehensive nature of their analysis, particularly in identifying diseases with onset prior to peak reproductive age and their influence on the chances of remaining childless over a lifetime.

The study’s findings provide a foundation for future research aimed at prioritizing health interventions to help those facing involuntary childlessness.

This research highlights the complex interplay between health conditions and reproductive choices or outcomes, offering valuable insights for healthcare providers and individuals alike.

The research findings can be found in Nature Human Behaviour.

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