Association of childhood obesity with female infertility in adulthood: a 25-year follow-up study

In this 25-year follow-up study of 1,544 girls, we found that childhood obesity before 12 years of age appears to increase the risk of female infertility in later life.

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Volume 110, Issue 4, Pages 596–604.e1


Ye He, Ph.D., Jing Tian, Ph.D., Wendy H. Oddy, Ph.D., Terence Dwyer, M.D., Alison J. Venn, Ph.D.



To evaluate whether childhood obesity is associated with infertility in women's reproductive-aged life.


Prospective longitudinal study.


Not applicable.




A total of 1,544 girls, aged 7–15 years in 1985, and who completed questionnaires at follow-up in 2004-2006 and/or 2009-2011.

Main Outcome Measure(s)

Infertility was defined as having difficulty conceiving (had tried for ≥12 months to become pregnant without succeeding) or having seen a doctor because of trouble becoming pregnant.


At ages from 7–11 years, girls at both the lower and upper end of the body mass index (BMI) z score had increased risk of infertility. Compared with normal weight girls, those with obesity at ages 7–11 years were more likely in adulthood to report infertility (adjusted relative risk [aRR] = 2.94, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.48–5.84), difficulty conceiving (aRR = 3.89, 95% CI 1.95–7.77), or having seen a doctor because of trouble becoming pregnant (aRR = 3.65, 95% CI 1.90–7.02) after adjusting for childhood age, follow-up length, highest parental education, and marital status.


Childhood obesity before 12 years of age appears to increase the risk of female infertility in later life.

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Fertility and Sterility

Editorial Office, American Society for Reproductive Medicine

Fertility and Sterility® is an international journal for obstetricians, gynecologists, reproductive endocrinologists, urologists, basic scientists and others who treat and investigate problems of infertility and human reproductive disorders. The journal publishes juried original scientific articles in clinical and laboratory research relevant to reproductive endocrinology, urology, andrology, physiology, immunology, genetics, contraception, and menopause. Fertility and Sterility® encourages and supports meaningful basic and clinical research, and facilitates and promotes excellence in professional education, in the field of reproductive medicine.