April 18, 2024

Link between Early-life Diseases and Lifelong Childlessness Explored in New Study

 The study, led by Dr. Aoxing Liu and senior authors Melinda Mills and Andrea Ganna, examined data from over 2.5 million individuals born in Finland and Sweden.

In many Western European and East Asian countries, there has been a significant increase in the number of individuals who remain childless throughout their lives, reaching up to 15-20% of individuals born around 1970. While various factors such as social and economic preferences have been studied, there has been limited research on the role of different diseases in contributing to childlessness, especially those with onset prior to the peak reproductive age.

Using nationwide registers, the researchers analyzed data on 414 early-life disease diagnoses for 1.4 million women born between 1956 and 1973, and 1.1 million men born between 1956 and 1968. The study focused on full-sibling pairs who exhibited differences in their childlessness status. Interestingly, the association between disease and childlessness was found to be more similar between childless individuals and their siblings who had only one child, compared to those with more children.

Out of the 74 diseases that were significantly associated with childlessness, more than half were mental-behavioral disorders. The study also revealed several novel associations between disease and childlessness, such as autoimmune and inflammatory diseases. Gender differences were observed in the relationships between diseases and childlessness, with certain conditions showing stronger associations in men or women.

The study also highlighted the role of education and partner status in the likelihood of childlessness. Individuals with lower educational attainment were more likely to be childless, and an individual’s childless status was influenced by their parents’ level of education. The absence of a partner was found to play a substantial role in the connection between diseases and childlessness.

Professor Melinda Mills emphasized the need for interdisciplinary research and public health interventions to address early-life diseases in relation to childlessness. The study also called for further research to distinguish between voluntary and involuntary childlessness and to expand the findings to other countries and more recent cohorts.

This groundbreaking research provides valuable insights into the relationship between early-life diseases and lifelong childlessness. By understanding how disease contributes to involuntary childlessness, it opens the door for improved public health interventions and support for individuals facing these challenges.

1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
2. We have leveraged AI tools to mine information and compile it