Inbreeding effects on fertility in humans: evidence for reproductive compensation

Am J Hum Genet. 1999 Jan;64(1):225-31. doi: 10.1086/302198.


The effects of inbreeding on prereproductive mortality have been demonstrated in many natural populations, including humans. However, little is known about the effects in inbred individuals who survive to adulthood. We have investigated the effects of inbreeding on fertility among inbred adult Hutterites and demonstrate significantly reduced fecundity among the most inbred Hutterite women, as evidenced by longer interbirth intervals (P=.024) and longer intervals to a recognized pregnancy (P=.010) but not by increased rates of fetal loss (P>.50). These data suggest the presence of recessive alleles that adversely affect fecundity among the population. In contrast, completed family sizes do not differ among the more and the less-inbred Hutterite women who were born after 1920, suggesting that reproductive compensation is occurring among the more-inbred and less-fecund women. This recent reproductive strategy would facilitate the maintenance of recessive alleles and contribute to an overall decline in fertility in the population.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Consanguinity*
  • Female
  • Fertility / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Maternal Age
  • Parity
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Outcome
  • Survival Analysis