Striking changes in women’s reproductive characteristics in China

Mar 17, 2014 12:00 PM

China has experienced major social and economic changes over the last several decades, and data from the China Kadoorie Biobank, published online in the International Journal of Epidemiology, showed striking changes in women’s reproductive factors over this period.

Women who experienced the 1958-61 famine at around the age of puberty, but not those born during that period, had a significant delay in menarche (the onset of periods), especially among those with poor education or from rural areas. Moreover, parity (the number of times a female gives birth) fell steadily after 1950 (as in other surrounding countries), with no obvious inflection after the introduction of the one-child policy. This suggests that fertility rates may have eventually fallen to below population replacement level without strict fertility control, particularly in some urban areas.