Fetal exposure to famine is associated with an increased risk for early menopause, according to a study published online Dec. 3 in Menopause.
Nengying Wang, M.D., from the Shengli Clinical Medical College of Fujian Medical University in Fuzhou, China, and colleagues evaluated 2011 to 2012 questionnaire data from 2,868 women born during the Chinese famine period (1956 to 1964) to assess age at natural menopause.
The researchers found that compared with unexposed women, women exposed to prenatal famine had a higher risk for early menopause (i.e., natural menopause <45 years; odds ratio, 1.59; 95 percent confidence interval, 1.07 to 2.36) and a nonsignificant trend of higher risk for premature ovarian failure (i.e., natural menopause <40 years; odds ratio, 1.94; 95 percent confidence interval, 0.93 to 4.00). There was no significant association noted between exposure to famine during childhood and reproductive aging.
"Such findings provided evidence in favor of the thrifty phenotype theory in reproductive aging and helped better understand the etiology of early menopause," the authors write.