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Risk of metabolic disorders in childless men: a population-based cohort study
  1. Ane Berger Bungum1,2,
  2. Clara Helene Glazer1,
  3. Jens Peter Bonde1,
  4. Peter M Nilsson3,
  5. Aleksander Giwercman2,
  6. Sandra Søgaard Tøttenborg1
  1. 1 Department of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Bispebjerg University Hospital, Kobenhavn, Denmark
  2. 2 Molecular Reproductive Medicine, Department of Translational Medicine, Lund University, Malmö, Sweden
  3. 3 Department of Clinical Sciences Malmö, Lund University, Skåne University Hospital, Malmö, Sweden
  1. Correspondence to Ane Berger Bungum; ane.berger.bungum{at}


Objective To study whether male childlessness is associated with an increased risk of metabolic disorders such as metabolic syndrome (MetS) and diabetes.

Design A population-based cohort study.

Setting Not applicable.

Participants 2572 men from the population-based Malmö Diet and Cancer Cardiovascular Cohort.

Interventions None.

Main outcome measures From cross-sectional analyses, main outcome measures were ORs and 95% CIs for MetS and diabetes among childless men. In prospective analyses, HRs and 95% CI for diabetes among childless men.

Results At baseline, in men with a mean age of 57 years, the prevalence of MetS was 26% and 22% among childless men and fathers, respectively. Similarly, we observed a higher prevalence of diabetes of 11% among childless men compared with 5% among fathers. In the cross-sectional adjusted analyses, childless men had a higher risk of MetS and diabetes, with ORs of 1.22 (95% CI 0.87 to 1.72) and 2.12 (95% CI 1.34 to 3.36) compared with fathers. In the prospective analysis, during a mean follow-up of 18.3 years, we did not see any increase in diabetes risk among childless men (HR 1.02 (0.76 to 1.37)).

Conclusion This study provides evidence of an association between male childlessness and a higher risk of MetS and diabetes. However, as these associations were found in cross-sectional analyses, reverse causation cannot be excluded.

  • childlessness
  • infertility
  • metabolic syndrome
  • diabetes
  • register-based cohort study

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  • Contributors JPB and AG acquired funding for the study. ABB, CHG, SST, AG and JPB designed the study. ABB, SST and CHG analysed data and ABB wrote the manuscript. PMN contributed with acquisition of data, critical discussion and revision of the paper. All authors contributed to data analysis/interpretation, critical revision of the paper and final approval of the manuscript.

  • Funding This study was funded by ReproUnion and also supported by the Medical Research Council of Sweden (grant K2011-65X-20752-04-6), the Region Skåne County Council, the Ernhold Lundstrom Foundation, for the MDC-CC follow-up clinical examination.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent Not required.

  • Ethics approval Ethics Committee of the Lund University (LU 51-90) and the Swedish Data Inspection Agency.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data sharing statement No additional unpublished data.

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