Women’s fertility concerns are on the rise, but scientists say certain worms can solve those problems.
A new study, published in the journal Science, looked at the health and fertility of 986 Bolivian women and found that women infected with a parasitic roundworm known as Ascaris lumbricoides, have more children than those who were not infected.
But not all parasitic worms are the same. The study noted that women who were infected with hookworm tended to have three children less than uninfected women, The New York Times Reports. These women also tended to have a lower body mass.
Unlike tapeworms which wreak havoc on the human body, roundworms are generally symptomless, News Medical reports.
Regardless of the type of worm, scientists believe the infections are altering the women’s immune systems, either increasing and decreasing their chances of conceiving.
Professor and co-author of the study, Aaron Blackwell, says more research needs to be done before any action can be taken on these findings.
In Canada, fertility rates continue to drop. In 2011, the rate was 1.61 children per woman. The average age for women giving birth for the first time also rose in 2011 to 28.5 years, the oldest on record thus far.
The average birthrate in Boliva is nine children per woman, where 70 per cent of the population is infected with a parasitic worm.