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Endemic disease, nutrition and fertility in developing countries

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  31 July 2008

C. G. N. Mascie-Taylor
Department of Biological Anthropology, University of Cambridge


The two main ways in which disease and nutrition can influence fertility are by reducing fecundity or by extending the birth interval. Fecundity refers to reproductive ability, that is the potential to breed, as compared to fertility which denotes actual childbearing (McFalls & McFalls, 1984). Reduced fecundity, which is usually referred to as subfecundity, results from impairment of any of the biological aspects of reproduction, including coital inability, conceptive failure as well as pregnancy loss. Subfecundity is only one factor operating to reduce fertility; other factors include those governing mate exposure (both formation and dissolution of unions as well as exposure to intercourse within unions) and birth control.

Research Article
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1992

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