Title page for ETD etd-01122012-174758

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Shaw, Ann Hardin
Author's Email Address annshaw44@yahoo.com
URN etd-01122012-174758
Title Pregnancy and the Relationship to Age-Related Macular Degeneration
Degree Master of Science (M.S.)
Department Human Ecology
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Lammi-Keefe, Carol Committee Member
Liu, Khijun Committee Member
Tuuri, Georgianna Committee Member
  • pregnancy
  • fish oil
  • macular degeneration
  • docosahexaenoic acid
Date of Defense 2011-11-17
Availability unrestricted
The Macular Study was a case control study that evaluated if parity and other participant characteristics predicted the diagnosis of age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Women, compared to men, are at higher risk for AMD. AMD is one of the leading causes of blindness in the elderly population [1]. Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA, 22:6n-3) is a long-chain fatty acid that is essential for the structure and function of the eye. During pregnancy the growing fetus depletes the maternal stores of DHA through placental transfer. The fetus needs an ample supply of DHA for proper retinal and central nervous system development. To date there is no research evaluating the number of pregnancies and their effect on development of AMD. We posed the question: “Does the number of pregnancies have an effect on the development of AMD in women?” Degree of AMD was documented and evaluated by four different eye doctors in Baton Rouge for 501 women. The women in the study completed a health history form that included demographic information, information about past pregnancies, and general health.

Using analysis of variance (ANOVA), women with a higher number of births were more likely to be diagnosed with early, intermediate or advanced AMD versus those women never diagnosed (3.27 + 0.19, 3.64 + 0.22, 3.33 + 0.24 versus 2.53 + 0.15, number of children P<0.0001). Numerous risk factors were considered, along with parity, in subsequent analyses; these were age, race, eye color, smoking history, vitamin intake, fish oil intake, family history of AMD, history of hypertension, and body mass index (BMI). Using backwards-stepwise regression the most significant risk factors predicting the diagnosis of AMD were determined (P < 0.01) and entered into a logistic regression model. Age, parity, BMI, and BMI by parity significantly predicted the diagnosis of AMD. As age, BMI and the number of pregnancies increased, the probability of being diagnosed with AMD also increased.

In conclusion, older women, with a higher BMI, who have had more pregnancies, were more likely to have AMD compared to younger women with a lower BMI and fewer pregnancies. It is important that future studies consider parity as a possible risk for AMD, especially as it relates to other participant characteristics. Such studies may provide insight as to why women are at greater risk for AMD.

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