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"Air Pollution Around Conception Tied To Birth Defects"

  • UNTV News
  • New York, NY
  • (January 04, 2018)

Exposure to fine particles in air pollution may be another factor that affects men's sperm quality and their fertility, suggests researchers in Taiwan. Although the clinical effect may be small, the findings could be important from a public health perspective due to worldwide exposure to pollution. The kind of particle pollution can be found both indoors and outdoors and most often comes from vehicle exhaust, the burning of wood, crops, coal or heating oil, and from emissions given off by power plants and other industries. The primary finding of this study is a significant decrease in the percentage of sperm that are normally shaped with increasing air pollution, but the percentage of sperm that are morphologically normal is still very high, said Shanna Swan, PhD, professor of environmental medicine and public health, obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive science at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. The change in sperm concentration is difficult to interpret, noted Dr. Swan, who wasn't involved in the study. For one thing, the average sperm concentration in the participants was fairly low. "Strengths of the study are its large size, its use of cutting-edge estimates of air pollution and WHO semen analysis methods," Dr. Swan added. Semen quality is significantly related to fertility, men with no or very few moving sperm cannot fertilize an egg, she noted.

 - Shanna Swan, PhD, Professor, Environmental Medicine and Public Health, Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Science, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

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