Health

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Italian Male Fertility Plummets, Population to Drop

May 22, 2008 08:46 PM
by findingDulcinea Staff
The number of active sperm in Italian men appears to have halved since the 1970s. Italy's population is expected to drop 22 percent by 2050.

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During the 1970s, Italian men averaged 71 million spermatoza per millimeter. But today, they average 60 million, according to a study of 10,000 healthy men conducted by Fabrizio Menchini Fabris of Pisa University.

Fabris also found that today, fewer than 30 percent of the sperm are “active” in Italian men, while 50 percent were active in the 1970s. Taken together, these number mean that Italian men today have 50 percent fewer active sperm than they did thirty years ago.

Geography and environmental factors figured largely in the study. Men who reside in bigger cities or agricultural locations where the use of pesticides is common had 20 percent less mobile sperm than smaller town and village dwellers, with “15 percent more defective spermatozoa,” according to an article in Italian newspaper Corriere Della Sera.

Some experts attribute the diminishing sperm count to pollution and environmental factors such as “illegal dumps, pesticide use and smog,” writes the Corriere Della Sera. The article also highlights the findings of Paolo Mocarelli of Milano Bicocca University, who “has demonstrated the direct link between exposure to dioxin and falling sperm counts in man.”

The issue of declining global sperm rates began to garner public attention in the early 1990s, when Danish doctor Niels Skakkebaek said that worldwide sperm counts had dropped by one percent a year since 1930.

Numerous recent studies have dealt with the issue. One study found a correlation between soya products and declining sperm counts. In March 2007, researchers connected lower sperm counts to children born from parents who ate a lot of beef during pregnancy. Even cell phones have been studied as a potential risk to the male reproductive system. Italy's birth rate of 1.2 is well below the "replacement rate" of 2.1 children per woman. Italy's native population is expected to drop 22 percent by 2050.

Headline Links: Lower sperm counts in Italians

Background: A global trend?

Related Topics: Recent studies on sperm count

Soya products
Beef and pregnancy
Cell phones

Reference: Help for fertility issues

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