BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: Interbirth intervals (IBIs) mediate a trade-off between child number and child survival. Life history theory predicts that the evolutionarily optimal IBI differs for different individuals whose fitness is affected by how closely a mother spaces her children. The objective of the article is to clarify these conflicts and explore their implications for public health. METHODOLOGY: Simple models of inclusive fitness and kin conflict address the evolution of human birth-spacing. RESULTS: Genes of infants generally favor longer intervals than genes of mothers, and infant genes of paternal origin generally favor longer IBIs than genes of maternal origin. CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS: The colonization of maternal bodies by offspring cells (fetal microchimerism) raises the possibility that cells of older offspring could extend IBIs by interfering with the implantation of subsequent embryos.
Haig, DavidengEngland2014/02/01 06:00Evol Med Public Health. 2014 Jan;2014(1):12-7. doi: 10.1093/emph/eou002. Epub 2014 Jan 16.