Master of Science (MS)


Human Ecology

Document Type



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.  



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Lammi-Keefe, Carol

Included in

Human Ecology Commons