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How the environment could be damaging men's reproductive health

1,204 boys born in one hospital in Lithuania between October 1996 and November 1997. The boys were examined at birth and one year later. Sixty-nine (5.7%) of the boys had one or both testes undescended. After one year the testes had descended fully in 51 of the 68 children (75%) who were followed up, reducing the overall rate of the condition from 5.7% to 1.4%.

Dr Niels Jorgensen, one of the authors, said the study was significant because existing data on male reproductive health in Lithuania showed that the incidence of testicular cancer was one of the lowest in Europe and that semen quality in young men was good ?a similar situation to that in Finland. "However, our results showed that the prevalence of cryptorchidism at birth in Lithuania was 5.7%, which was lower than in Denmark (9%), but higher than Finland (2.4%). These figures are not consistent with the data on semen quality and testicular cancer in the Nordic-Baltic region. Based on these data, we could have expected the frequency of cryptorchidism in Lithuanian boys to be similar to that in Finnish boys."

So what could be the reason for the discrepancy between these different indicators for male reproductive health?

Dr Jorgensen said: "Recent data show that semen quality and testicular cancer development is probably determined during the foetal period, but clinically this is usually not detected until the third decade of life. Thus, the recent findings of good semen quality and low frequency of testicular cancer in Lithuania may reflect the intrauterine environment situation more than 20 years ago. However, cryptorchidism can be detected immediately after birth and therefore the prevalence of congenital cryptorchidism detected in this study may be a better reflection of the current environmental situation than semen quality and the incidence of testicular cancer.

"If the hypothesis is correct that TDS is caused by environmental conditions, possibly interacting with genetic
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Source:European Society for Human Reproduction and Embryology


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