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Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2004 Jun;1019:513-7.

Does exceptional human longevity come with a high cost of infertility? Testing the evolutionary theories of aging.

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Center on Aging, NORC and the University of Chicago, 1155 East 60th Street, Chicago, IL 60637-2745, USA.


The purpose of this study is to test the prediction of the evolutionary theory of aging that human longevity comes with the cost of impaired reproductive success (higher infertility rates). Our validation study is based on the analysis of particularly reliable genealogical records for European aristocratic families using a logistic regression model with childlessness as a dependent (outcome) variable, and woman's life span, year of birth, age at marriage, husband's age at marriage, and husband's life span as independent (predictor) variables. We found that the woman's exceptional longevity did not increase her chances of being infertile. It appears that the previous reports by other authors of high infertility among long-lived women (up to 50% infertility) are related to incomplete data, that is, births of children not reported. Thus, the concept of the high cost of infertility for human longevity is not supported by the data when these data are carefully cross-checked, cleaned, and reanalyzed.

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