TitleAssociation Between Neighborhood Disadvantage and Fertility Among Pregnancy Planners in the US.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2022
AuthorsWillis, MD, Orta, OR, Ncube, C, Wesselink, AK, Ðoàn, LN, Kirwa, K, Boynton-Jarrett, R, Hatch, EE, Wise, LA
JournalJAMA Netw Open
Date Published06/2022
KeywordsAdult, Cohort Studies, Female, Fertility, Humans, Menstrual Cycle, Neighborhood Characteristics, Pregnancy, Prospective Studies

Key Points


Is living in a disadvantaged neighborhood associated with decreased fertility?


In this cohort study of 6356 women attempting to conceive without the use of fertility treatment, the probability of conception was reduced 21% to 23% per menstrual cycle when comparing the highest with the lowest deciles of disadvantaged neighborhoods. When disadvantaged neighborhood status was categorized within each state (as opposed to nationally), the results were slightly larger in magnitude.


These findings suggest that investments in disadvantaged neighborhoods may yield positive cobenefits for fertility.

Importance: Decades of inequitable policies in the US have yielded disparities in neighborhood quality, and some studies show that living in a socioeconomically disadvantaged neighborhood is associated with worse health outcomes, including reproductive health outcomes. However, no US studies to date have directly examined the association between residence in disadvantaged neighborhoods and fertility.

Objective: To examine the association between residence in disadvantaged neighborhoods and fecundability, a sensitive marker of fertility with many health implications.

Design, Setting, and Participants: This prospective preconception cohort study used the Pregnancy Study Online, for which baseline data were collected from June 19, 2013, through April 12, 2019. The study included 6356 participants who identified as female, were 21 to 45 years of age, were attempting conception without fertility treatment, and provided a valid residential address in the contiguous US at enrollment.

Exposures: A standardized area deprivation index (ADI) derived at the census block group level applied to each residential address.

Main Outcomes and Measures: Fecundability, the per-cycle probability of conception, via questionnaires that were completed every 8 weeks for 12 months, until conception or a censoring event. Proportional probabilities models were used to estimate fecundability ratios and 95% CIs for associations between ADI and fecundability. Restricted cubic splines were also implemented to examine nonlinearity. Models were adjusted for demographic characteristics and factors associated with fertility. The study's a priori hypothesis was that higher levels of neighborhood disadvantage would be associated with decreased fecundability.

Results: Among 6356 participants, 3725 pregnancies were observed for 27 427 menstrual cycles of follow-up. The mean (SD) baseline age was 30.0 (4.1) years, and most participants were non-Hispanic White (5297 [83.3%]) and nulliparous (4179 [65.7%]). Comparing the top and bottom deciles of disadvantaged neighborhood status, adjusted fecundability ratios were 0.79 (95% CI, 0.66-0.96) for national-level ADI rankings and 0.77 (95% CI, 0.65-0.92) for within-state ADI rankings. Restricted cubic splines showed some evidence of nonlinearity in the association. Associations were slightly stronger among participants with lower annual incomes (<$50 000).

Conclusions and Relevance: In this cohort study, residence in a socioeconomically disadvantaged neighborhood was associated with moderately decreased fecundability. If confirmed in other studies, these results suggest that investments to reduce disadvantaged neighborhood status may yield positive cobenefits for fertility.

Alternate JournalJAMA Netw Open
PubMed ID35771576
PubMed Central IDPMC9247730