Parasitic worms influence fertility, study finds

In a  study published in Science, researchers reveal how parasitic worms can influence a woman’s likelihood of becoming pregnant. Infection with different species of helminths was found to either positively or negatively impact a woman’s fertility.

Researchers analyzed nine years of data involving 986 women from an indigenous population of lowland Bolivia. The researchers assessed the number of pregnancies each woman had and the incidence of infection with two of the most common helminths – giant roundworm (Ascaris lumbricoides) and hookworm (Necator americanus or Ancylostoma duodenale) – to determine whether the parasitic worms had an effect on fertility.Around 70% of the women had helminth infection, and the team found that women who were infected with roundworm were more likely to become pregnant, while those infected with hookworm had a lower chance of pregnancy.

Fertility medicine is an evolving science, and this study evidences how local environmental factors can have a strong influence on fertility.

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