Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Dad’s Health Can Affect His Fertility

Salt Lake City  – According to the Utah Pregnancy Risk Line, a Utah Department of Health (UDOH) program that educates the public about exposures to drugs, diseases, and hazardous chemicals during pregnancy and breastfeeding, more studies are needed to evaluate the potential effect of men’s illnesses, medications, and lifestyle habits on their own fertility and potential pregnancies.

“A paternal exposure is anything the father of the baby is exposed to before his partner’s pregnancy,” explained Julia Robertson, director of Utah’s Pregnancy Risk Line, a joint UDOH and University of Utah project. “Some exposures may affect a man’s ability to father a child by changing the size or shape of sperm, the number of sperm produced, or how the sperm work,” she added.

It’s estimated that for couples suffering fertility problems, the issue rests half of the time with the male. In approximately one-quarter of these cases, a specific cause is unknown.

Studies have found associations between the following risk factors and altered sperm, lower fertility, and infertility:

  Occupational: Chemicals like heavy metals, solvents, and fumes (welding fumes, for example).
  Physical agents: Heat, vibration, and extremes in temperature and pressure.
  Radiation: Radiation used to treat cancer.
  Lifestyle: Cigarette smoking and drug and alcohol abuse.
  Infections: For example, chlamydia, a common sexually-transmitted disease.
  Pollutants: As an example, PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls). PCBs were banned by the EPA in 1979, but still exist in the environment, including landfills, lakes, and streams.

“Dad is sometimes an afterthought when it comes to pregnancy,” said Robertson. “But the bottom line is it’s often just as important to consider Dad’s impact on a pregnancy as it is Mom’s,” she added. “So, what better time to remind the public of that than on Father’s Day?”
In Utah, questions or concerns about paternal exposures in pregnancy or breastfeeding can be directed to Pregnancy Risk Line counselors at (800) 822-2229. Outside Utah, please call the national affiliate, the Organization of Teratology Information Specialists, at (866) 626-6847. 
Media Contact:
Lynn Martinez
Pregnancy Risk Line
435-720-3314 (cell)
800-822-2229 M-Th

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