Smoking during pregnancy

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NEW YORK, July 3, 2004

Monday, June 9, 2003

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Sons of mothers who smoked more than 10 cigarettes a day during pregnancy have lower sperm counts than sons whose mothers did not smoke, according to a new study from Denmark.
In the study, sons of smokers also tended to have lower levels of a hormone that has been linked to sperm production and to have sperm that was less dense than average, researchers report.
"There has been an apparent decline in sperm density during the last five decades in Denmark, a country in which women have among the highest rates of smoking in Europe," Dr. Lone Storgaard, of Aarhus University Hospital, and colleagues note in the journal Epidemiology.
The researchers collected a semen sample and a blood sample from each of 316 men between November 1999 and May 2000. Mothers of 265 of the men completed questionnaires on how much they smoked during pregnancy.
After adjusting for age, current smoking status and various other factors, the investigators found that sperm density was 48 percent lower among sons of mothers who smoked more than 10 cigarettes a day during pregnancy compared with those whose mothers did not smoke.
Men whose mothers smoked more than 10 cigarettes per day also had lower total sperm counts and lower levels of inhibin B, a hormone that has been linked to sperm production.
These effects were not seen in the sons of women who smoked one to 10 cigarettes per day when they were pregnant, Storgaard and colleagues note.
Storgaard's team speculates that components of tobacco smoke may somehow affect fetal cells that are important for sperm production later in life.

SOURCE: Epidemiology 2003;14:278-286.


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