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Infertility consults in immigrant and refugee women in Ontario: population-based cohort study

Rodriguez V, Furmli H, Green ME, Griffiths R, Pudwell J, Velez MP. Reprod Sci. 2022; 29(5):1661-5. Epub 2022 Feb 4. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s43032-022-00871-9


Though immigrant women comprise a growing portion of the Canadian population, there remains a lack of information on the rates of infertility diagnosis in this group. Our study aimed to investigate the differences in rates of infertility consults between refugee, non-refugee immigrant, and Canadian-born women. We conducted a population-based matched cohort study in women 15–45 years of age in Ontario. Immigration status was defined as refugee, non-refugee immigrant, and Canadian-born woman. Refugee and non-refugee immigrant women were matched by age and residence in the same Local Health Integration Network (LHIN) to two Canadian-born women. The cohort was followed for 2 years for occurrence of infertility consult. Proportion of infertility consults by immigration status was calculated and differences between groups were assessed using standardized differences (SD). Modified Poisson regression was used to calculate the relative risk (RR) for infertility consults by immigration status after adjusting for confounding variables. Our results showed an increased proportion of infertility consults among both refugees (4.7%) and non-refugee immigrant women (5.8%) compared to their Canadian-born matches (2.8% and 3.2%, respectively), with SD ≧ 0.1 in most stratified age groups, denoting a meaningful statistical difference. In the multivariable analysis, relative to Canadian-born women, the RR for fertility consults was increased in refugee women (RR 1.66, CI 95% 1.58–1.75), and non-refugee immigrants (RR 1.77, 95% CI 1.74–1.80). These findings may be explained by immigrant women originating from areas with higher infertility rates, or their experience of higher than average stress levels, a known risk factor for infertility.

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