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Women Born With a Low Birth Weight May Have Trouble Conceiving

Katlyn Joy |18, March 2014

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A new study out of Sweden has raised questions about whether a girl born at a low birth weight, at less than 5 1/2 pounds, may have more trouble conceiving later as an adult.

The study looked at information gleaned from 1200 heterosexual women primarily between the ages of 20 and 40, who were seeking treatment at a fertility clinic between 2005 and 2010, along with their partners.

Of the 1200 couples, about 38 percent had fertility issues related to the women, 27 percent had issues related to the man, and 7 had problems with both sexes. Another 28 percent were unexplained fertility problems.

Of the women, 3.6 percent were born weighing less than 5.5 pounds, and 3 percent were born before the 37th week of pregnancy, considered prematurely.

Researchers discovered that of the women who had the primary fertility problems were twice as likely to have been born at low birth weight than those seeking fertility treatment due to a male fertility issue or unexplained fertility issues. The findings were consistent even when looking at other factors such as the woman's BMI or whether she had given birth previously.

A study done earlier found that women who had weighed less than 3.3 pounds at birth were less likely to give birth themselves in their mid-20s than those who were of a healthier birth weight. However, researchers did not investigate whether the women actually were infertile.

More research in this area as needed, since these are the only recent studies looking at such concerns, and the study was rather limited and only involved Swedish women.

Researchers think one possible reason to link low birth weight and infertility may be that growth restriction in utero may have an effect on reproductive organs. Earlier studies have found a link between reduced fetal growth to ovulation problems.


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