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Early-life conditions and age at first pregnancy in British women

Daniel Nettle, David A. Coall and Thomas E. Dickins
Proceedings: Biological Sciences
Vol. 278, No. 1712 (7 June 2011), pp. 1721-1727
Published by: Royal Society
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/41314844
Page Count: 7
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Early-life conditions and age at first pregnancy in British women
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Abstract

There is growing evidence that the reproductive schedules of female mammals can be affected by conditions experienced during early development, with low parental investment leading to accelerated life-history strategies in the offspring. In humans, the relationships between early-life conditions and timing of puberty are well studied, but much less attention has been paid to reproductive behaviour. Here, we investigate associations between early-life conditions and age at first pregnancy (AFP) in a large, longitudinally studied cohort of British women (n = 4553). Low birthweight for gestational age, short duration of breastfeeding, separation from mother in childhood, frequent family residential moves and lack of paternal involvement are all independently associated with earlier first pregnancy. Apart from that of birthweight, the effects are robust to adjustment for family socioeconomic position (SEP) and the cohort member's mother's age at her birth. The association between childhood SEP and AFP is partially mediated by early-life conditions, and the association between early-life conditions and AFP is partially mediated by emotional and behavioural problems in childhood. The overall relationship between early-life adversities and AFP appears to be approximately additive.

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