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Stressful life events, the incidence of infertility, and the moderating effect of maternal responsiveness: a longitudinal study.

Authors
  • Gleason, Jessica L1
  • Shenassa, Edmond D1, 2, 3, 4
  • Thoma, Marie E1
  • 1 Maternal & Child Health Program, Department of Family Science, School of Public Health, University of Maryland, 4200 Valley Dr., Suite 1142, College Park, MD20742, USA.
  • 2 Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, School of Public Health, University of Maryland, 4200 Valley Dr., Suite 1142, College Park, MD20742, USA.
  • 3 Department of Epidemiology, School of Public Health, Brown University, 121 South Main St., Providence, RI02903, USA.
  • 4 Department of Epidemiology & Public Health, School of Medicine, University of Maryland, 655 W. Baltimore St., Baltimore, MD, USA.
Type
Published Article
Journal
Journal of Developmental Origins of Health and Disease
Publisher
Cambridge University Press
Publication Date
Jun 01, 2021
Volume
12
Issue
3
Pages
465–473
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1017/S2040174420000690
PMID: 32741397
Source
Medline
Keywords
Language
English
License
Unknown

Abstract

Although the association between stress and poor reproductive health is well established, this association has not been examined from a life course perspective. Using data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1997 cohort (N = 1652), we fit logistic regression models to test the association between stressful life events (SLEs) (e.g., death of a close relative, victim of a violent crime) during childhood, adolescence, and early adulthood and later experiences of infertility (inability to achieve pregnancy after 12 months of intercourse without contraception) reported by female respondents. Because reactions to SLEs may be moderated by different family life experiences, we stratified responses by maternal responsiveness (based on the Conger and Elder Parent-Youth Relationship scale) in adolescence. After adjusting for demographic and environmental factors, in comparison to respondents with one or zero SLEs, those with 3 SLEs and ≥ 4 SLEs had 1.68 (1.16, 2.42) and 1.88 (1.38, 2.57) times higher odds of infertility, respectively. Respondents with low maternal responsiveness had higher odds of infertility that increased in a dose-response manner. Among respondents with high maternal responsiveness, only those experiencing four or more SLEs had an elevated risk of infertility (aOR = 1.53; 1.05, 2.25). In this novel investigation, we demonstrate a temporal association between the experience of SLEs and self-reported infertility. This association varies by maternal responsiveness in adolescence, highlighting the importance of maternal behavior toward children in mitigating harms associated with stress over the life course.

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