Birthweight and paternal involvement predict early reproduction in British women: Evidence from the National Child Development Study

Article


Nettle, Daniel, Coall, David A. and Dickins, Thomas E. 2009. Birthweight and paternal involvement predict early reproduction in British women: Evidence from the National Child Development Study. American Journal of Human Biology. 22 (2), pp. 172-179.
AuthorsNettle, Daniel, Coall, David A. and Dickins, Thomas E.
Abstract

There is considerable interest in the mechanisms maintaining early reproduction in the most socioeconomically disadvantaged groups in developed countries. Previous research has suggested that differential exposure to early-life factors such as low birthweight and lack of paternal involvement during childhood may be relevant. Here, we used longitudinal data on the female cohort members from the UK National Child Development Study (n=3014-4482 depending upon variables analysed) to investigate predictors of early reproduction. Our main outcome measures were having a child by age 20, and stating at age 16 an intended age of reproduction of 20 years or lower. Low paternal involvement during childhood was associated with increased likelihood of early reproduction (O.R. 1.79-2.25) and increased likelihood of early intended reproduction (O.R. 1.38-2.50). Low birthweight for gestational age also increased the odds of early reproduction (O.R. for each additional s.d. 0.88) and early intended reproduction (O.R. for each additional s.d. 0.81). Intended early reproduction strongly predicted actual early reproduction (O.R. 5.39, 95% CI 3.71-7.83). The results suggest that early-life factors such as low birthweight for gestational age, and low paternal involvement during childhood, may affect women’s reproductive development, leading to earlier target and achieved ages for reproduction. Differential exposure to these factors may be part of the reason that early fertility persists in socioeconomically disadvantaged groups. We discuss our results with respect to the kinds of interventions likely to affect the rate of teen pregnancy.

Keywordsteenage pregnancy; reproductive development; life-history theory; birthweight; father absence; developmental plasticity
JournalAmerican Journal of Human Biology
Journal citation22 (2), pp. 172-179
ISSN1042-0533
Year2009
Accepted author manuscript
License
CC BY-ND
Web address (URL)http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ajhb.20970
http://hdl.handle.net/10552/576
Publication dates
Print2009
Publication process dates
Deposited10 Feb 2010
Additional information

Citation:
Nettle, D. et al (2009) ‘Birthweight and paternal involvement predict early reproduction in British women: Evidence from the National Child Development Study’ American Journal of Human Biology 22 (2) 172 - 179.

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