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.

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 July 23, 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 July 23, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Courts Conflicted Over Healthcare Law

Courts Conflicted Over Healthcare Law

AP (July 22, 2014) Two federal appeals courts issued conflicting rulings Tuesday on the legality of the federally-run healthcare exchange that operates in 36 states. (July 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Why Do People Believe We Only Use 10 Percent Of Our Brains?

Why Do People Believe We Only Use 10 Percent Of Our Brains?

Newsy (July 22, 2014) The new sci-fi thriller "Lucy" is making people question whether we really use all our brainpower. But, as scientists have insisted for years, we do. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Find New Way To Make Human Platelets

Scientists Find New Way To Make Human Platelets

Newsy (July 22, 2014) Boston scientists have discovered a new way to create fully functioning human platelets using a bioreactor and human stem cells. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Gilead's $1000-a-Pill Drug Could Cure Hep C in HIV-Positive People

Gilead's $1000-a-Pill Drug Could Cure Hep C in HIV-Positive People

TheStreet (July 21, 2014) New research shows Gilead Science's drug Sovaldi helps in curing hepatitis C in those who suffer from HIV. In a medical study, the combination of Gilead's Hep C drug with anti-viral drug Ribavirin cured 76% of HIV-positive patients suffering from the most common hepatitis C strain. Hepatitis C and related complications have been a top cause of death in HIV-positive patients. Typical medication used to treat the disease, including interferon proteins, tended to react badly with HIV drugs. However, Sovaldi's %1,000-a-pill price tag could limit the number of patients able to access the treatment. TheStreet's Keris Lahiff reports from New York. Video provided by TheStreet
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:
from the past week

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