Reproductive & Maternal Health Resource Center

Reproductive & Maternal Health Resource Center

Disclosures: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.
January 22, 2021
2 min read

Overweight during pregnancy may raise odds of infertility in adult sons

Disclosures: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.
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Sons born to mothers with overweight during pregnancy were more likely to have infertility as adults compared with sons born to mothers with normal weight, according to findings published in Acta Obstetricia et Gynecologica Scandinavica.

Linn H. Arendt

“Infertility is a global public health issue, and it is important that research focus on addressing risk factors,” Linn H. Arendt, MD, PhD, a research fellow in the department of public health at Aarhus University, Denmark, told Healio. “Further, male infertility and poor semen quality is a major contributor to couple infertility and may lead to the need of fertility treatment. We know that children born to overweight and obese mothers face higher risks for several adverse outcomes, both on short and long term. These findings add to the evidence pinpointing that maternal overweight may also affect male future reproductive health.”

Pregnant Women
Source: Adobe Stock

Arendt and colleagues analyzed data from 9,232 adult sons and daughters whose mothers were enrolled in the Danish Healthy Habits for Two cohort during pregnancy in 1984-1987. Participants were sons and daughters followed in the Danish In Vitro Fertilization Register and Danish National Patient Register until February 2018 for diagnoses of infertility. At the time of follow-up, sons and daughters were aged 31 to 34 years.

Within the cohort, 1,203 sons and daughters, or 13%, were born to mothers with a BMI of at least 25 kg/m² and 871, or 9.4%, were identified as being infertile during follow-up.

Researchers found that the sons of mothers with overweight had slightly increased odds for infertility compared with sons of mothers with normal body weight, with an adjusted OR of 1.4 (95% CI, 1-1.9).

Cubic spline analyses with continuous BMI levels showed increasing odds with higher levels of maternal BMI; however, for BMI greater than 29 kg/m², “confidence intervals were too wide to draw conclusions,” the researchers wrote.

There was no association between maternal overweight and infertility among daughters.

“The prevalence of infertility in this study population was lower than reported in population surveys, in which about 15% of all couples experience infertility,” the researchers wrote. “This is most likely a consequence of the follow-up at a relatively young age, where the sons and daughter[s] had not all reached the end of their reproductive lives.”

Researchers also noted that only adults trying to become pregnant who seek help are represented in infertility registries.

For more information:

Linn H. Arendt, MD, PhD, can be reached at