Early Life Exposures Impact the Odds of an Endometriosis Diagnosis


Early Life Exposures Impact the Odds of an Endometriosis Diagnosis

Philadelphia, PA–  New results from The Women’s Health Study: From Adolescence to Adulthood (A2A)  presented at ASRM’s 75th annual Scientific Congress and Expo reveal that in addition to having a hereditary component, the odds a young woman will be diagnosed with endometriosis are influenced by early life exposures, like whether or not she was  breastfed or if her parents smoked during pregnancy or around their children.

The nested case control study included 604 young women within the A2A: 295 with laparoscopically-confirmed endometriosis and 309 controls. All participants were under 25 years of age at enrollment; controls averaged 22 years old and subjects with endometriosis were an average age of 17 when they joined the study.

Participants completed a questionnaire on early life health factors including mother’s age at delivery; birthweight; length of gestation; parents’ smoking habits during pregnancy, infancy, and childhood; and whether or not the subject was breastfed.

The average age at menarche was 12 for both subjects with endometriosis and controls.  The mothers of 50% of the women with endometriosis also suffered from endometriosis, while only 9% of the controls reported that their mothers had endometriosis.

Participants who were breastfed had about one third the odds of diagnosis with endometriosis under the age of 25 as those who had not been breastfed.  Although the number of women exposed was small, the impact of parental smoking was dramatic. Young women whose parents smoked during their childhood were 2.5 times more likely to be diagnosed with endometriosis and those whose mothers smoked while pregnant with them were four times more likely to receive an endometriosis diagnosis.

ASRM Vice President Hugh Taylor, MD, noted, “Research like this into potential causes of endometriosis is extremely valuable. Identifying modifiable risk factors, like parental smoking, and taking action on them can help reduce the impact of this painful and debilitating condition.”

P-525 Sasamoto et al, “In Utero and Early Life Exposures in Relation to Odds of Endometriosis in Adolescents and Young Adults”


ASRM is a multidisciplinary organization dedicated to the advancement of the science and practice of reproductive medicine. The Society accomplishes its mission through the pursuit of excellence in education and research and through advocacy on behalf of patients, physicians, and affiliated health care providers. The Society is committed to facilitating and sponsoring educational activities for the lay public and continuing medical education activities for professionals who are engaged in the practice of and research in reproductive medicine. www.asrm.org