Season of birth and reproductive performance: an analysis of family reconstitutions of 800 women born in The Netherlands at the end of the 19th century.
SourceChronobiology International, 18, 3, (2001), pp. 525--39
Article / Letter to editor
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BACKGROUND: Several studies have reported associations between season of birth and reproductive characteristics such as menarcheal age, fecundability, and twinning, but the results are inconsistent with respect to the location of high- and low-risk seasons. To assess whether this disagreement could be due to the use of populations from different geographic areas and time frames instead of different etiologic pathways, we investigated the season-of-birth dependency of a variety of reproductive outcomes within one time- and area-limited population. METHODS: In a historic follow-up study, the reconstituted families of 800 women born between 1873 and 1887 in or near Rotterdam, The Netherlands, were used to determine eight types of reproductive outcome: childlessness, interval to first pregnancy, pregnancy interval, stillbirth, neonatal death, postneonatal death, multiple birth, and gender of offspring. The relation of these outcomes with season of birth was modeled using cosinor functions with periods of 1 year or a half year. Data were analyzed by use of logistic regression or general estimation equations (GEE), dependent on whether outcomes could occur more than once per woman. RESULTS: Peaks in the model-based risks of reproductive failure were found within two small temporal ranges, January 1 to February 11 and July 1 to August 11 for all outcomes except gender. The picture did not change after controlling for known and possible risk factors, including age, offspring's birth cohort, and some social variables. CONCLUSIONS: This study reconfirms the idea that seasonal factors around conception or birth influence later reproductive characteristics. Observing the consistency of the location of high-risk seasons across a variety of outcomes, the explanation of season-of-birth dependency of different reproductive outcomes need not involve multiple etiological pathways.
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