The study, from the University Hospital of Copenhagen in Denmark, found that men and women who smoke have a decrease in their fertility. For men, this means a reduced amount of protein needed to create sperm. For women, smoking during pregnancy seems to have a similar effect on their unborn children.
Embryos were tested between 37 to 68 day for germ cells, the cells that become eggs and sperm later on. For the embryos of mothers who smoked, there was a reduction in these cells by 55 percent. Though a previous study found the reduction at only 41 percent, it seems obvious that even at such an early part of development smoking may be linked to reducing fertility.
“We were very surprised that smoking so early in pregnancy has such profound effect on the number of germ cells in the gonads,” New Scientist quoted co-author Claus Andersen from the University Hospital of Copenhagen in Denmark, as saying.
A second study, from the University of the Saarland in Germany, looked at how smoke affects sperm count in adult males. Sperm samples were taken from 53 men who smoked more than 20 cigarettes per day and from 63 non-smokers. The researchers found that the smokers had a 14 percent lower amount of the protein P2, a critical protein for sperm creation. The smokers also seemed to have a more significant chemical imbalance, called “oxidative stress”, that can damage the DNA of sperm.
Researchers suggest that men and women stop smoking before they being trying to get pregnant. Because sperm production can take months, smoking can affect sperm for weeks after a smoker has stopped. Also, smoking seems to affect embryos at such an early stage it is healthier to stop smoking before pregnancy occurs. – Summer, staff writer
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