Has human fertility declined over time? Why we may never know
ABSTRACT Reports of decreased semen quality over time have raised concerns about possible reductions in human fertility. Studies of couple fertility have produced conflicting results. We evaluate how changes in the availability and use of effective contraception and induced abortion might bias the direct study of time trends in couple fertility.
We assess the potential for bias in the context of 2 common study designs: (1) a study of time-to-pregnancy that estimates fecundability (excluding unintended pregnancies) and (2) a study of infertility rates that categorizes couples as fertile or infertile (including couples with unintended pregnancies as fertile).
In time-to-pregnancy studies, bias alone could produce more than a 2-fold apparent increase in fecundability over recent decades. In studies of infertility rates, the bias works in the opposite direction: a 30% underestimation of infertility during earlier decades could produce an apparent decrease in fertility over time.
Over the past 5 decades, changes in social factors that affect the rate and fate of unintended pregnancies could substantially bias time trends in fertility. These biases may explain the conflicting reports in the literature. Except in rare settings in which the factors affecting reproductive choices have not changed, it is probably impossible to identify biologic changes in fertility over recent decades.
Occupational and Environmental Medicine 07/2014; 71(9). DOI:10.1136/oemed-2014-102309 · 3.23 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Studies of couple fertility over time have often examined study populations with broad age ranges at a cross-section of time. An increase in fertility has been observed in studies that followed episodes of fertility events either prospectively among nulliparous women or retrospectively among parous women. Fertility has a biological effect on parity. If defined at a cross-section of time, parity will also be affected by year of birth, and thus becomes a collider. Conditioning (stratifying, restricting, or adjusting) on a collider may cause selection bias in the studied association.Epidemiology (Cambridge, Mass.) 10/2014; DOI:10.1097/EDE.0000000000000190 · 6.18 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Bisphenol A (BPA) is a synthetic compound used in the production of many polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins. It is one of the most widely produced chemicals in the world today and is found in most canned goods, plastics, and even household dust. Exposure to BPA is almost universal: most people have measurable amounts of BPA in both urine and serum. BPA is similar in structure to estradiol and can bind to multiple targets both inside and outside the nucleus, in effect acting as an endocrine disruptor. Research on BPA exposure has accelerated in the past decade with findings suggesting that perinatal exposure to BPA can negatively impact both male and female reproduction, create alterations in behavior, and act as a carcinogen. BPA can have both short term and long term effects with the latter typically occurring through epigenetic mechanisms such as DNA methylation. This review will draw on both human and animal studies in an attempt to synthesize the literature and examine the effects of BPA exposure on reproduction, behavior, and carcinogenesis with a focus on the potential epigenetic mechanisms by which it acts.International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 07/2014; 11(7):7537-7561. DOI:10.3390/ijerph110707537 · 1.99 Impact Factor