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Childrens' Fertility Could be Affected by Parents' Lifestyle

NHS Choices,  April 19, 2010
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A study carried out by Dr Richard Sharpe from the MRC Human Reproductive Sciences Unit at Queen’s Medical Research Institute in Edinburgh was funded in part by the UK Medical Research Council and by the European Union. The review was published in the peer-reviewed medical journal Philosophical Transactions of The Royal Society.

News sources have generally covered this research in a balanced way. However, they have selectively focused on the impact of smoking, while they could equally have discussed the range

This narrative review has discussed the evidence concerning spermatogenesis in adult males by considering research on both the factors that affect the male foetus and those that affect adult males. It should be noted that this research was a narrative review, and as such it is difficult to know exactly how the author has selected the discussed studies and whether there has been a full assessment of all the relevant evidence pertaining to this topic.

The newspapers have specifically chosen to focus on this author’s discussion of the effect of maternal smoking (the review discusses studies that suggest that men whose mothers smoke heavily have substantially reduced sperm counts, lowered by up to 40%). The results also suggest that there is only limited evidence that smoking as an adult male negatively affects sperm count.

However, the newspapers could equally have chosen to report on obesity, which was also considered by this review. The author says that one preliminary study suggests that a high maternal BMI negatively affects semen quality in resulting sons when they reach adulthood. Importantly, being obese as an adult is a risk factor for reduced sperm count and reduced sperm motility.

This review highlights a number of important factors and discusses their potential effects on male sperm counts. Its findings emphasise the importance of pregnant women avoiding smoking and maintaining a healthy lifestyle and weight, which are pieces of well-established general health advice for both males and females. Read more.


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