The purpose of this study is to test the prediction of evolutionary theory of aging that human longevity comes with the cost of impaired reproductive success (higher infertility rates, see Nature, 1998, 396: 743-746). Our validation study is based on the analysis of particularly reliable genealogical records for European aristocratic families. This dataset is appealing to use for two reasons: (1) it has high data accuracy and completeness; (2) confounding effects of socio-economic status are minimized in this socially elite group. The dataset is comprised of 3,723 married women born in 1500-1875 and belonging to the upper European nobility. Every case of childlessness was cross-checked using at least two different sources. Data analyses were based on logistic regression model using childlessness as a dependent (outcome) variable, and woman lifespan, calendar year of birth, age at marriage, husband's age at marriage and husband's lifespan as dependent (predictor) variables. We found that woman's exceptional longevity does not increase her chances to be infertile. It appears that the previous reports of high infertility among long-lived women (up to 50% of infertility rate, see Nature, 1998, 396: 743-746) are related to data incompleteness, caused by under-reporting of children. Indeed, data cross-checking revealed that at least in 32% cases the allegedly 'childless' women did in fact had children. Thus, the concept of heavy infertility cost for human longevity is not supported by data, when these data are carefully cross-checked, cleaned and reanalyzed. Additional relevant information is available at our scientific website (http://www.longevity-science.org/).
Evolutionary Theories of Aging