The team looked at the natural fertility rates amongst women, 70 percent of whom had a parasitic infection. On average, the birth rate was nine children per woman – but those infected with the giant roundworm averaged two extra children.
The parasite, which can grow up to 36 centimeters (14 inches), was also found to shorten the time between pregnancies and reduce the age at which women first gave birth. The researchers then hypothesized that the roundworms altered the women’s immune systems, making it easier for them to become pregnant.
How is that so? Should women be thankful for that?
We think the effects we see are probably due to these infections altering women’s immune systems, such that they become more or less friendly towards a pregnancy,”according to Professor Aaron Blackwell, as he noted that women’s immune systems natural change during pregnancy so their bodies don’t reject the fetus.
Blackwell and his co-researchers also suggested that the worms may aid in conception and implantation of the embryo in the womb by reducing inflammation.