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Predictive models of pregnancy based on data from a preconception cohort study

, Taiyao Wang, Zahra Zad, , Tanran R Wang, , Tammy Jiang, Elizabeth E Hatch, Lauren A Wise, Ioannis Ch Paschalidis
Published: 13 January 2022

Abstract: STUDY QUESTION: Can we derive adequate models to predict the probability of conception among couples actively trying to conceive? SUMMARY ANSWER: Leveraging data collected from female participants in a North American preconception cohort study, we developed models to predict pregnancy with performance of ∼70% in the area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUC). WHAT IS KNOWN ALREADY: Earlier work has focused primarily on identifying individual risk factors for infertility. Several predictive models have been developed in subfertile populations, with relatively low discrimination (AUC: 59–64%). STUDY DESIGN, SIZE, DURATION: Study participants were female, aged 21–45 years, residents of the USA or Canada, not using fertility treatment, and actively trying to conceive at enrollment (2013–2019). Participants completed a baseline questionnaire at enrollment and follow-up questionnaires every 2 months for up to 12 months or until conception. We used data from 4133 participants with no more than one menstrual cycle of pregnancy attempt at study entry. PARTICIPANTS/MATERIALS, SETTING, METHODS: On the baseline questionnaire, participants reported data on sociodemographic factors, lifestyle and behavioral factors, diet quality, medical history and selected male partner characteristics. A total of 163 predictors were considered in this study. We implemented regularized logistic regression, support vector machines, neural networks and gradient boosted decision trees to derive models predicting the probability of pregnancy: (i) within fewer than 12 menstrual cycles of pregnancy attempt time (Model I), and (ii) within 6 menstrual cycles of pregnancy attempt time (Model II). Cox models were used to predict the probability of pregnancy within each menstrual cycle for up to 12 cycles of follow-up (Model III). We assessed model performance using the AUC and the weighted-F1 score for Models I and II, and the concordance index for Model III. MAIN RESULTS AND THE ROLE OF CHANCE: Model I and II AUCs were 70% and 66%, respectively, in parsimonious models, and the concordance index for Model III was 63%. The predictors that were positively associated with pregnancy in all models were: having previously breastfed an infant and using multivitamins or folic acid supplements. The predictors that were inversely associated with pregnancy in all models were: female age, female BMI and history of infertility. Among nulligravid women with no history of infertility, the most important predictors were: female age, female BMI, male BMI, use of a fertility app, attempt time at study entry and perceived stress. LIMITATIONS, REASONS FOR CAUTION: Reliance on self-reported predictor data could have introduced misclassification, which would likely be non-differential with respect to the pregnancy outcome given the prospective design. In addition, we cannot be certain that all relevant predictor variables were considered. Finally, though we validated the models using split-sample replication techniques, we did not conduct an external validation study. WIDER IMPLICATIONS OF THE FINDINGS: Given a wide range of predictor data, machine learning algorithms can be leveraged to analyze epidemiologic data and predict the probability of conception with discrimination that exceeds earlier work. STUDY FUNDING/COMPETING INTEREST(S): The research was partially supported by the U.S. National Science Foundation (under grants DMS-1664644, CNS-1645681 and IIS-1914792) and the National Institutes for Health (under grants R01 GM135930 and UL54 TR004130). In the last 3 years, L.A.W. has received in-kind donations for primary data collection in PRESTO from,, Sandstone Diagnostics and Swiss Precision Diagnostics. L.A.W. also serves as a fibroid consultant to AbbVie, Inc. The other authors declare no competing interests. TRIAL REGISTRATION NUMBER: N/A.
Keywords: models / behavioral factors / pregnancy / Earlier work / leveraged / probability of conception / predict the probability / study entry / machine

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