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The home team advantage: reproduction in women indigenous to high altitude.

Authors
  • Vitzthum, V J
Type
Published Article
Journal
The Journal of experimental biology
Publication Date
Sep 01, 2001
Volume
204
Issue
Pt 18
Pages
3141–3150
Identifiers
PMID: 11581328
Source
Medline
License
Unknown

Abstract

Although there is substantial evidence that environmental conditions disrupt reproductive function among newcomers to hypoxic settings, it is not certain that low oxygen pressure reduces fertility among those indigenous to high altitude. Even when fertility does appear to be relatively lower, numerous behavioral and sociocultural factors may be responsible. These are best examined within demographic frameworks that delineate a finite list of the proximate determinants of fertility. The findings presented here are based on several studies of indigenous Andean populations (Peruvian Quechua at 4000 m, Bolivian Quechua at 3100 m, Bolivian Aymara at 4000 m). Data on ovarian function suggest that neither progesterone levels nor menstrual cycle length or regularity are significantly different from those of women at lower altitudes. Data on two behavioral factors that determine fertility levels, coital frequency and infant feeding practices, suggest that the former is not likely to be of significance in co-habitating couples, but that variation in breastfeeding patterns has probably made a substantial contribution to differences in fertility among at least some populations at high altitude.

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