Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education



Front Page

World

UK

UK Politics

Business

Sci/Tech

Health

Education

Sport

Entertainment

Talking Point

In Depth

On Air

Archive
Feedback
Low Graphics
Help

Friday, August 6, 1999 Published at 09:31 GMT 10:31 UK


Health

Pesticides 'reduce male fertility'

It is thought pesticides may damage the sperm's action

Men who are exposed to pesticides as a result of their jobs may find it harder to father children, according to researchers.


BBC News' James Westhead reports on the findings
A study published in The Lancet medical journal found that couples were less likely to achieve success during fertilisation treatment if the male partner had been in regular contact with pesticides.

There has been growing concern about the effect pesticides may have on the human reproductive system, and particularly on the quality of men's sperm.

Regular contact

The new research found that out of 650 couples undergoing in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) treatment, 20 men were found to have had regular contact with pesticides.

Seven of these - including four fruit farmers and two flower growers - had been exposed to high levels of pesticides.

Compared to other couples undergoing IVF, these men were significantly less successful in achieving fertilisation.

Those who had the highest exposure had the least sucessful fertilisation rates.

"Our results are the first to suggest that paternal pesticide exposure decreases the sperm fertilising ability in vitro (in a test tube)," the Dutch researchers said.

BBC Health Correspondent Richard Hannaford said the survey was too small to allow definite conclusions to be made.

However, it will increase the pressure for more detailed research to be carried out, he said.

Previous findings

Earlier research has also suggested that exposure to pesticides may affect men's sperm.

DDT metabolite pesticides have been shown to block the action of male hormones.

And workers exposed to high levels of the pesticide chlordecone are known to suffer decreased sperm motility and abnormal sperm.

The authors of the new study, however, could not say which pesticides were to blame.

"Because most individuals were exposed to multiple pesticides with various active ingredients, it is impossible to draw conclusions as to which chemical may be responsible for that effect," they said.





Advanced options | Search tips




Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage | ©


Health Contents

Background Briefings
Medical notes

Relevant Stories

04 Dec 98 | Health
Pesticide linked to breast cancer

02 Oct 98 | Health
Pesticides to be tested on human guinea pigs

01 Oct 98 | Health
Pesticide link to eye abnormalities





Internet Links


The Lancet


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.




In this section

Disability in depth

Spotlight: Bristol inquiry

Antibiotics: A fading wonder

Mental health: An overview

Alternative medicine: A growth industry

The meningitis files

Long-term care: A special report

Aids up close

From cradle to grave

NHS reforms: A guide

NHS Performance 1999

From Special Report
NHS in crisis: Special report

British Medical Association conference '99

Royal College of Nursing conference '99