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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Fertility and the Environment

D. Mail 19.4.10
A man's fertility can depend on his mother's lifestyle. A large-scale review of factors affecting sperm production found that how a woman looks after herself in pregnancy could have a major effect on her unborn baby's ability to father a child in adulthood. Smoking & exposure to pesticides & traffic pollution do more harm in the first weeks of life than in the adult body, according to Richard Sharpe, one of UKs leading reproductive biologists. This could be because exposure to toxins in the womb cuts the number of sertoli cells, highly specialised cells needed to 'nurse' young sperm through to maturity during a man's life. With as many as 1 in 5 men having a low sperm count & UK couples spending almost £2billion a year at IVF clinics, it underlines the importance of a woman doing the best for her baby during pregnancy. A study of the after-effects of a major chemical leak from an Italian factory found males who were in the womb at the time grew up to have lower than expected sperm counts. The professor's research concluded that chemicals in food, cosmetics & cleaning products are to blame for some of the birth defects in baby boys' genitals & raise the risk of testicular cancer in later life. Dr. Allan Pacey, a Sheffied Uni expert in male fertility said this highlights the importance of women not exposing their baby to harmful chemicals during pregnancy. He said that men can damage their sperm production & would-be-fathers should limit their exposure to things that damage sperm production, such as recreation & prescription drugs.

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