Denmark's Baby Blues Blamed on Disruptive Chemicals

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Pregnant woman - Sputnik International, 1920, 21.12.2021
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Exposure to everyday chemicals known as endocrine disruptors has been postulated to affect sperm quality, cause issues such as genital malformations, and spark earlier puberty, all of which may ultimately cause fertility problems.
An international report spearheaded by a Danish research crew from the Rigshospitalet Clinic has analysed the reasons behind the nation's protracted fertility problems.
Since the 1970s, an average of 1.7 children per woman have been born in Denmark. Some 2.1 children is the minimum for a stable population level to be maintained in the absence of immigration.
Aside from purely social reasons, such as Danes postponing having babies until later in life and instead pursuing education and careers, the report also identified exposure to everyday chemicals known as endocrine disruptors, which affect the ability of both men and women to have children.
These include many subcategories from flame retardants to phthalates and are found in our everyday life from textiles to plastics, toys, cosmetics, furniture, paints, and many other things. Many of the items directly or indirectly originate from fossil fuels

"We can see that there is an increase in diseases of the reproductive system, where hormones are an important factor. Therefore, there is a strong suspicion that endocrine disruptors play a major role in us having fewer children today than 50 years ago", Professor Anders Juul, head of the research centre EDMaRC at Rigshospitalet and one of the scientists behind the study, told Danish Radio.

Among other things, the researchers noted that testicular cancer is becoming more common both in Denmark and the West in general. Furthermore, more boys are being born with genital malformations and that healthy men have poorer sperm quality today compared to the 1950s. All these factors can potentially affect the ability to have children.
Some of the diseases or conditions that may be linked to endocrine disruptors develop inside the mother's womb. This may be the case with sperm quality, which has deteriorated in the Western world over the past 40-50 years.

"The functions of the testicles are developed in foetal life, and can therefore also be affected by endocrine disruptors", Juul said.
Endocrine disruptors also appear to play a role in women's health as well. The researchers suspect that they cause young girls to reach puberty earlier.

"We now see that young girls start to develop breasts earlier, and thus reach puberty earlier. In 1991, the average age for when young girls develop breasts was barely 11 years. In 2006, that number dropped to 9.9 years", Anders Juul said. "When more young girls enter puberty earlier, it is a marker that shows us there is something in our lifestyle that affects the reproductive system in one way or another".

According to Juul, it is not the individual consumer's responsibility to avoid endocrine disruptors.

"Such an increase in the incidence of diseases that are hormone-dependent makes you wonder. We researchers must be able to identify this even more precisely, so that we as a society can ban even more of the worst chemical substances in our environment", Juul concluded, calling for a more universal health policy.
Fertility rates have been in decline worldwide for over a century, and most industrialised nations now have rates below the levels required to sustain their populations. The lack of labour force is generally listed as one of the premier reasons in favour of mass immigration.
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