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Hum Reprod. 2017 Mar 1;32(3):499-504. doi: 10.1093/humrep/dew361.

Is human fecundity changing? A discussion of research and data gaps precluding us from having an answer.

Author information

1
Office of the Director, Division of Intramural Population Health Research, Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, 6710B Rockledge Dr. Room 3131A, Bethesda, MD 20829, USA.
2
Department of Demography, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA.
3
Department of Epidemiology, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, New York, NY 10032, USA.
4
Department of Epidemiology, Boston University School of Public Health, Boston, MA 02118, USA.
5
Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology, The Ohio State University College of Medicine, Columbus, OH 43212, USA.
6
Epidemiology Branch, Division of Intramural Population Health Research, Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, Bethesda, MD 20829, USA.
7
Department of Growth and Reproduction and EDMaRC, University of Copenhagen, Rigshospitalet, DK-2100 Copenhagen, Denmark.
8
Team of Environmental Epidemiology, Inserm, CNRS, University Grenoble Alpes, IAB Joint Research Center, F-38000 Grenoble, France.
9
Office of Research and Development, National Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Research Triangle Park, NC 27709, USA.
10
Department of Family and Preventive Medicine, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT 84108, USA.
11
Department of Sociology and College of Law, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN 55455, USA.
12
Department of Urology, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA 94305, USA.
13
The Turek Clinic, Beverly Hills, CA 90210, USA.
14
Biostatistics and Bioinformatics Branch, Division of Intramural Population Health Research, Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, Bethesda, MD 20829, USA.
15
Department of Family Science, School of Public Health, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742, USA.

Abstract

Fecundity, the biologic capacity to reproduce, is essential for the health of individuals and is, therefore, fundamental for understanding human health at the population level. Given the absence of a population (bio)marker, fecundity is assessed indirectly by various individual-based (e.g. semen quality, ovulation) or couple-based (e.g. time-to-pregnancy) endpoints. Population monitoring of fecundity is challenging, and often defaults to relying on rates of births (fertility) or adverse outcomes such as genitourinary malformations and reproductive site cancers. In light of reported declines in semen quality and fertility rates in some global regions among other changes, the question as to whether human fecundity is changing needs investigation. We review existing data and novel methodological approaches aimed at answering this question from a transdisciplinary perspective. The existing literature is insufficient for answering this question; we provide an overview of currently available resources and novel methods suitable for delineating temporal patterns in human fecundity in future research.

KEYWORDS:

epidemiology; fecundity; fertility; gynecologic diseases; time-to-pregnancy; urologic diseases

PMID:
28137753
PMCID:
PMC5850610
DOI:
10.1093/humrep/dew361
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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