Exploring the Association between Reproductive Health and Cognitive Function in Hispanic and Non-Hispanic Women: Insights from a HABS-HD Study




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Purpose: Alzheimer’s disease (AD), a progressive neurodegenerative disease with nearly two-thirds of dementia cases found in women, leads to memory loss, cognitive deficits, and behavioral changes, significantly impacting daily life. Given the disproportionate effect of AD on women, it is crucial to understand the risk factors, including reproductive health variables, that may contribute to the development of dementia and AD. Such understanding can provide valuable insights for dementia prevention and the development of personalized, gender-specific medicine. This study aimed to examine the association between reproductive health variables such as bilateral oophorectomy and pregnancy complications and cognitive performance in Hispanic and non-Hispanic women. Method: Self-reported data from 309 cognitively normal women (165 non-Hispanic white and 144 Hispanic) enrolled in the Health and Aging Brain Study: Health Disparities (HABS-HD) project, an epidemiological study of aging in community-based participants, were analyzed. Reproductive health variables examined included bilateral oophorectomy, pregnancy complications, number of pregnancies, and number of children. The cognitive assessment comprised neuropsychological test scores in five domains: memory (logical memory I & II), executive functioning (digit symbol substitution), attention (digit span), language (F-A-S), and global cognition (mini‐mental state examination). Linear regression statistical analyses were conducted, with ethnicity serving as a stratification variable. Results: Linear regression analyses revealed significant associations between reproductive health variables and cognitive domains, with distinct patterns observed among ethnic groups. Bilateral oophorectomy was linked to decreased immediate memory in Hispanic women (B=.176, SE=1.691, t=2.211, p=.029) and lower language performance in non-Hispanic white women (B=-.228, SE=1.980, t=-2.682, p=.008). Pregnancy complications were associated with poorer attention scores in Hispanic women (B=.163; SE=.000, T=2.203, p=.029). However, the number of children and pregnancies were not associated with cognitive performance. Conclusion: This study suggests that reproductive health variables, such as bilateral oophorectomy and pregnancy complications, were differentially associated with cognitive assessment performance among Hispanic and non-Hispanic women. A surgical history of bilateral oophorectomy may be associated with a decline in cognitive performance in both Hispanic and non-Hispanic women. Limitations, including sample size constraints and reliance on self-reported medical history, are acknowledged. Nonetheless, this study underscores the need for continued investigation into the intersection of reproductive health and cognitive function to inform targeted interventions and personalized healthcare approaches for dementia prevention across diverse communities.