Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Research into eating disorders and fertility reveals mixed picture

Date:
August 3, 2011
Source:
King's College London
Summary:
Eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia are associated with fertility problems and negative attitudes to pregnancy, according to a new study. The research also revealed high rates of unplanned pregnancies in women with a history of anorexia, suggesting they may be underestimating their chances of conceiving.

Eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia are associated with fertility problems and negative attitudes to pregnancy, according to a UK study. The research also revealed high rates of unplanned pregnancies in women with a history of anorexia, suggesting they may be underestimating their chances of conceiving. The study is to be published in BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology.

Related Articles


Eating disorders are known to cause disruption to a woman's menstrual cycle, with substantial weight loss leading to hormonal changes that might prevent ovulation, but so far little research has been carried out into how eating disorders might affect fertility.

A team at King's College London and UCL investigated a group of 11,088 pregnant women from the Avon area of the UK, with women asked to complete questionnaires at 12 and 18 weeks gestation. Women with lifetime anorexia and bulimia were compared to the group as a whole to assess the impact of their eating disorder on attitudes to fertility and pregnancy.

Of the total number of women, 171 (1.5%) had anorexia at some point in their life, 199 (1.8%) had bulimia and an additional 82 (0.7%) had suffered from both conditions. The remaining 10,636 (96%) formed the general population comparison group.

The survey revealed that a higher proportion of women (39.5%) with a history of anorexia and bulimia took longer than six months to conceive compared to the general population (25%). However, they were no more likely to take longer than 12 months to conceive than the general population. The study found that women with anorexia and bulimia were more than twice as likely (6.2%) than the general population (2.7%) to have received treatment or help to conceive their current pregnancy.

However, when asked at 18 weeks gestation, women with anorexia were more likely to report that their current pregnancy was unintentional. In this group of women 41.5% said their pregnancy was unplanned compared to 28.6% of women in the general population.

The majority of women reported feeling overjoyed or pleased when they discovered that they were pregnant (71%). However, eating disorders were linked to negative feelings about pregnancy. Further analysis has shown that women with anorexia and bulimia were more than twice as likely (9.8%) than the general population (3.8%) to report feeling unhappy when they found out they were pregnant.

Lead author, Abigail Easter, from the Institute of Psychiatry at King's College London, said:

"This research highlights that there are risks to fertility associated with eating disorders. However, the high rates of unplanned pregnancies in women with a history of anorexia suggest that women may be underestimating their chances of conceiving.

"Pregnancy can be a difficult time for women with eating disorders and this is the first time feelings about pregnancy have been looked at amongst this group of women.

"Women planning a pregnancy should ideally seek treatment for their eating disorder symptoms prior to conception and health professionals should be aware of eating disorders when assessing fertility and providing treatment for this."

Dr Nadia Micali, Institute of Child Health, UCL and lead investigator added:

"Health professionals are often unaware of the effects of eating disorders on pregnancy and fertility. Women with a history of anorexia for example are more likely to have unplanned pregnancies. This has now been replicated in three large studies and has important repercussions on the level of antenatal and postnatal care they will need."

Professor Philip Steer, BJOG editor-in-chief said:

"Eating disorders have important clinical consequences, especially in women. This research shows that more women with eating disorders are unprepared for pregnancy and will therefore require more support during the antenatal and postnatal period."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by King's College London. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. A Easter, J Treasure, N Micali. Fertility and prenatal attitudes towards pregnancy in women with eating disorders: results from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children. BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics & Gynaecology, 2011; DOI: 10.1111/j.1471-0528.2011.03077.x

Cite This Page:

King's College London. "Research into eating disorders and fertility reveals mixed picture." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 August 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110802201834.htm>.
King's College London. (2011, August 3). Research into eating disorders and fertility reveals mixed picture. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110802201834.htm
King's College London. "Research into eating disorders and fertility reveals mixed picture." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110802201834.htm (accessed December 22, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Monday, December 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Christmas Kissing Good for Health

Christmas Kissing Good for Health

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 22, 2014) Scientists in Amsterdam say couples transfer tens of millions of microbes when they kiss, encouraging healthy exposure to bacteria. Suzannah Butcher reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Brain-Dwelling Tapeworm Reveals Genetic Secrets

Brain-Dwelling Tapeworm Reveals Genetic Secrets

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 22, 2014) Cambridge scientists have unravelled the genetic code of a rare tapeworm that lived inside a patient's brain for at least four year. Researchers hope it will present new opportunities to diagnose and treat this invasive parasite. Matthew Stock reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Touch-Free Smart Phone Empowers Mobility-Impaired

Touch-Free Smart Phone Empowers Mobility-Impaired

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 21, 2014) A touch-free phone developed in Israel enables the mobility-impaired to operate smart phones with just a movement of the head. Suzannah Butcher reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Earthworms Provide Cancer-Fighting Bacteria

Earthworms Provide Cancer-Fighting Bacteria

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 21, 2014) Polish scientists isolate bacteria from earthworm intestines which they say may be used in antibiotics and cancer treatments. Suzannah Butcher reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins