Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Human Development and Family Studies

First Advisor

Brenda J. Lohman


Evolutionary theories are useful for examining public health issues (such as low birth weight, premature birth, and child health conditions) as well as elucidating the ways in which the health and development of one generation impacts the next. Indeed, previous studies have revealed relationships between individual facets of maternal reproductive development (e.g. age at menarche, sexual debut, and first childbirth) and two primary components of the human reproductive strategy: the quantity and quality of her offspring. In this dissertation, life history theory was used to examine the effect of a cumulative accelerated maternal reproductive developmental index (AMRI; consisting of early menarche, early sexual debut, early first childbirth) on the quantity and quality (in terms of premature birth, low birth weight, and health conditions) of offspring in light of a myriad of control variables. Results showed that an AMRI significantly predicted a higher number (quantity) of offspring, but did not significantly predict low birth weight or premature birth. Furthermore, an AMRI significantly predicted more health conditions (including physical, mental, and developmental conditions) in childhood, but only up to age four. Discussion and implications of these results are elucidated. In conclusion, this dissertation provides a starting point for future investigations regarding cumulative maternal reproductive development and the extent to which they can be used to potentially examine trade-offs between the quality and quantity of offspring among humans.


Copyright Owner

Meghan Gillette



File Format


File Size

85 pages