A life course approach to reproductive health: Theory and methods

Mishra, Gita D., Cooper, Rachel and Kuh, Diana (2010) A life course approach to reproductive health: Theory and methods. Maturitas, 65 2: 92-97. doi:10.1016/j.maturitas.2009.12.009

Author Mishra, Gita D.
Cooper, Rachel
Kuh, Diana
Title A life course approach to reproductive health: Theory and methods
Journal name Maturitas   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0378-5122
Publication date 2010-02-01
Year available 2010
Sub-type Critical review of research, literature review, critical commentary
DOI 10.1016/j.maturitas.2009.12.009
Open Access Status Not yet assessed
Volume 65
Issue 2
Start page 92
End page 97
Total pages 6
Place of publication Shannon, Co. Clare, Ireland
Publisher Elsevier Ireland
Language eng
Abstract Taking a life course approach to the study of reproductive health involves the investigation of factors across life and, also across generations, that influence the timing of menarche, fertility, pregnancy outcomes, gynaecological disorders, and age at menopause. It also recognises the important influence of reproductive health on chronic disease risk in later life. Published literature supports the use of an integrated life course approach to study reproductive health, which examines the whole life course, considers the continuity of reproductive health and the interrelationship between the different markers of this. This is in contrast to more traditional approaches that tend to focus only on contemporary risk factors and which consider each marker of reproductive health separately. For instance, we found evidence linking early life factors such as growth, socioeconomic conditions, and parental divorce with ages at menarche and menopause, although the nature of the relationship differs. We discuss the different theoretical models that are used within life course epidemiology and which postulate pathways linking exposures across the life course to health outcomes, using examples of relevance to the study of reproductive health. These highlight the importance of examining timing of exposures, such as during critical periods in early life, and the temporal order of exposures. How life course frameworks of reproductive health can be developed to help identify hypotheses to be tested is also demonstrated. This approach has implications for the development of effective health policy that moves beyond identifying not only the type of intervention but also the most appropriate time across life to intervene.
Keyword Life course models
Women's health
Critical periods
Sensitive periods
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Grant ID RES-353-25-0001
Institutional Status Non-UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Critical review of research, literature review, critical commentary
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