Can Contraceptive Pill Affect Future Offspring’s Health? The Implications of Using Hormonal Birth Control for Human Evolution

Abstract

Resistance to disease is greater for offspring if the parents have dissimilar immune systems, as their pathogen-detection ability is enhanced. Accordingly, women evolved to be sexually attracted to men with a dissimilar immune system, primarily during high-fertility cycle phases. Contraceptive pills, however, reverse women’s preferences, leading them to be attracted to men with a similar immune system. In the present study (N = 192), we compared the health of children born to parents who met while the mother was on the pill with that of children whose parents met when the mother was not on the pill. Results confirmed our predictions, indicating that children to mothers who were on the pill are more infection-prone, require more medical care, suffer from a higher frequency of common sicknesses, and are perceived as generally less healthy than children whose parents met on non-pill circumstances. Results are discussed in light of the current antibiotic world crisis.

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Correspondence to Tsachi Ein-Dor.

Appendix: Child Health Questionnaire

Appendix: Child Health Questionnaire

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Birnbaum, S., Birnbaum, G.E. & Ein-Dor, T. Can Contraceptive Pill Affect Future Offspring’s Health? The Implications of Using Hormonal Birth Control for Human Evolution. Evolutionary Psychological Science 3, 89–96 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40806-016-0074-4

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Keywords

  • Children’s health
  • Contraceptive pills
  • Mate choice
  • Menstrual cycle
  • MHC