Pregnant Women who Smoke More Likely to Have Sons With Low Sperm Count

First Posted: Jul 09, 2013 05:50 AM EDT

Many previous studies have shown the risks associated with smoking during pregnancy. It not only affects the mother but exposes the unborn baby to an elevated risk of numerous health problems, birth defects and abnormalities.  A latest research says that smoking during pregnancy may lead to low sperm count in sons.

A recent study states that male babies born to women who smoke during pregnancy carry the risk of having a low sperm count.

The study,Western Australia Pregnancy (Raine) Cohort, consisted of 2,900 pregnant women. The research was done on a large scale and was of long duration. It started in 1989. The researchers assessed the newborns before and after the birth in order to track the link between mother's smoking habits and the significant outcome on the infant's health.  A testicular assessment was conducted when the sons reached the age of 20-22. The quality of the semen, hormone production and testicular volume was measured. They noticed that nearly one-sixth of the young men had sperm parameters that fell below the normal parameters defined by the World Health Organization, reports Counsel & Heal.

On comparing these results with previous fetal growth evaluations, the researchers found that being small in the womb was linked with a greater chance of having low sperm count.

The researchers assert that poor fetal growth, exposure to maternal smoking, improper childhood growth patterns, elevated fat deposits during adolescence and smoking and drug intake during adulthood ultimately leads to low sperm production, reports Daily Mail.

"The main message from our study is that to reach adulthood with the best possible testicular function a man should not be exposed to his mother's smoking, should have good fetal growth and, in childhood and through adolescence, should be 'appropriately grown' - that is, neither underweight nor overweight, and as an adult should not smoke or take drugs," said Roger Hart, professor of reproductive medicine at the University of Western Australia. "The extent of the risk posed by environmental endocrine disrupters is still unclear, but some researchers do attribute the perceived decline in sperm counts to these chemicals within the environment."

The study details were presented at the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embroyology (ESHRE) meeting.

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