Female Reproductive Performance and Maternal Birth Month: A Comprehensive Meta-Analysis Exploring Multiple Seasonal Mechanisms

Abstract [from journal]

Globally, maternal birth season affects fertility later in life. The purpose of this systematic literature review is to comprehensively investigate the birth season and female fertility relationship. Using PubMed, we identified a set of 282 relevant fertility/birth season papers published between 1972 and 2018. We screened all 282 studies and removed 131 non-mammalian species studies on fertility and 122 studies that were on non-human mammals. Our meta-analysis focused on the remaining 29 human studies, including twelve human datasets from around the world (USA, Europe, Asia). The main outcome was change in female fertility as observed by maternal birth month and whether this change was correlated with either temperature or rainfall. We found that temperature was either strongly correlated or anti-correlated in studies, indicating that another factor closely tied to temperature may be the culprit exposure. We found that rainfall only increases fertility in higher altitude locations (New Zealand, Romania, and Northern Vietnam). This suggests the possibility of a combined or multi-factorial mechanism underlying the female fertility – birth season relationship. We discuss other environmental and sociological factors on the birth season – female fertility relationship. Future research should focus on the role of birth season and female fertility adjusting for additional factors that modulate female fertility as discussed in this comprehensive review.