We often hear the theory that when a mother smokes, it will definitely affect the conceived baby and even reduced sperm counts in her male offsprings. But recent published investigations from Sweden proved otherwise.
Male offsprings whose fathers smoked at the time of pregnancy is found to have half of the number of sperm compared to those with non-smoking fathers. This effect was found to be independent of nicotine usage by the mother.
The study was conducted among 104 young men (aged between 17-20). To control the variables, researcher adjusted the mother’s own exposure to nicotine, socioeconomic factors, and the son’s own smoking. The result found out that men with fathers who smoked had a 41% lower sperm concentration and 51% fewer sperm than men with non-smoking fathers.
Cotinine is a biomarker and also a metabolite of nicotine which can be measured in the blood. By measuring the cotinine level, researchers could see whether an individual smoked or whether they had been exposed to passive smoking.
What is the Underlying Mechanism behind the Low Sperm Count?
We had always known that it is harmful for the foetus when mother smokes. But now the link between smoking fathers and various health outcomes has become much clearer.
Unlike mother’s egg, father’s sperm cells divide continuously throughout his reproductive life. Hence, the chance of mutation is higher at the moment of cell division. Tobacco smoke contains a lot of substances which can cause mutation. No one will notice the sperm fertilising the ovum is actually mutated and thereby pass on genes that result in reduced sperm quality in the male offspring.
Smoking is linked to damaged DNA in the sperm and smokers have more breaks in the DNA strand. Hence, children of fathers who smoke have been reported to have mutations in a certain repetitive part of DNA compared to children whose father does not smoke. Additionally, mutated DNA in sperm may cause genetic defects and increased cancer risks!
Dear dads, fatherhood begins before conception, starting with your sperm. Smoking is harmful to the reproductive process at every stage and to the future child’s health. The only way to protect yourself, your unborn baby and your whole family from harm is to quit. There will be no perfect moment to quit smoking but NOW.
You can consult with a doctor to help you quit smoking.
To read more on causes of male infertility, you can visit KL Fertility Centre: https://www.klfertility.com/male-infertility/causes-of-male-infertility/
*Article contributed by Leelah from GetDoc
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