Allergy and fertility
WOMEN with asthma, hay fever or eczema are no less fertile than their peers who don’t suffer from these allergic conditions, British researchers report. In fact, they may be slightly more likely to have children.
“This is an important finding for women with allergic disease and their clinicians,” Dr L. J. Tata of the University of Nottingham and colleagues write in their report, published in the American Journal of Epidemiology.
It has been noted that children with older siblings have a lower risk of asthma or other allergy-related diseases, the researchers note. One possible explanation for this relationship is that women with allergy-related conditions are less fertile and therefore less likely to have as many children, they add.
To investigate, the researchers compared fertility rates among 491,516 women 15 to 44 years old over a 10-year period. Thirteen percent had asthma, 14% had eczema and 12% had hay fever. Six percent had two of these conditions and 1% had all three.
Tata’s group found no significant difference in fertility rates between women with and without asthma, although asthmatic women in their 20s were actually slightly more fertile than their non-asthmatic peers, the researchers found.
Women with hay fever or eczema were also more fertile than those without these conditions, while women with two or three allergic conditions were also slightly more fertile than women without allergy-related disease.
The reasons why allergic disease might promote fertility aren’t clear, Tata and colleagues note; it’s possible that the balance of certain cells in the immune system that are seen with these allergic conditions may somehow boost the likelihood of conception.
They conclude: “Our results provide reassuring evidence that the fertility rates of women with asthma, eczema, or hay fever are not lower than those of women in the general population.” – Reuters
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