Paternal exposures to drugs, electromagnetic radiations, environmental chemicals, heavy metals and sexually transmitted diseases before or during his partner's pregnancy may damage sperm leading to infertility, according to a new study.
"A paternal exposure is anything the father of the baby is exposed to before or during his partner's pregnancy," explained Christina Chambers, professor of pediatrics and director of the California Teratogen Information Service (CTIS) Pregnancy Health Information Line.
"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," Chambers said.
Studies have found associations with the following risk factors and either altered sperm with or without infertility, lower fertility and infertility:
Occupational: Chemicals such as heavy metals, solvents, fumes (welding fumes).
Physical agents: Heat, vibration, extremes in temperature and pressure.
Radiation: Radiation and electromagnetic radiation (cell phones).
Lifestyle: Cigarette smoking.
Infection: Chlamydia trachomatis, a common sexually transmitted disease.
Pollutants: PCBs (Polychlorinated Biphenyls). PCBs were banned by the EPA in 1979, but exist in the environment including landfills, lakes and streams.