A recent study has revealed that fetal exposure to environmental chemicals through breast milk raises the chances of several male reproductive problems.
The researchers showed that evironmental endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs), commonly found in fatty foods, paints, plasticizers, pesticides, and the byproducts of industrial processes can lead to testicular cancer or adversely affect the development of the fetal testis in humans and animals.
In some countries, such as Denmark the prevalence of this disease and other male reproductive disorders, including poor semen quality and congenital genital abnormalities is conspicuously high,
However, in Finland, a similarly industrialized Nordic country, the incidences of these disorders are markedly lower.
Lead researcher Konrad Krysiak-Baltyn and colleagues analysed 68 breast milk samples from Denmark, Finland, and Germany and measured levels of 121 chemicals.
"We were very surprised to find that some EDC levels, including some dioxins, PCBs and some pesticides, were significantly higher in Denmark than in Finland," said Professor Niels Skakkebaek, a senior member of the research team, based at the University Department of Growth and Reproduction, Rigshospitalet, Denmark.
"Our findings reinforce the view that environmental exposure to EDCs may explain some of the temporal and between-country differences in incidence of male reproductive disorders.
"In spite of the findings, I would strongly urge women, including Danish mothers, to continue with breast feeding, which has many beneficial effects for the child," Skakkebaek added.
The study is published in the International Journal of Andrology.