Infertility timebomb ticking for Britain

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London, Feb 15 (UNI) Britain is sitting on an infertility timebomb as increasing use of IVF treatment by ''subfertile'' couples to have children is passing the condition to the next generation, a new study has revealed.

The report published in the British Medical Journal also raised an alarm about the possible effect of environmental pollution with gender-bending chemicals, which could explain increasing fertility problems in the West.

Researchers revealed that sperm counts and birth rates were declining with more than one in 20 babies now being conceived in a laboratory in many developed countries.

The experts also noted the need for more research into ''neglected'' areas of infertility, including theories that chemicals found in the environment could alter hormones.

It is feared that if pregnant women are exposed to these chemicals, they can affect sperm production in male foetuses - as a man's lifetime capacity to produce sperm is determined in the womb.

Other factors contributing to future infertility include increases in obesity, sexually transmitted diseases and the number of women choosing to have children later in life.

If the situation continues unchecked, within 10 years one in three couples will struggle to have children, compared with one in seven today, the study stated.

''With the advent of assisted conception, subfertile couples may have as many children as fertile couples, so that genetic factors linked to infertility will become more prevalent in the generations to come,'' researcher Jens Peter Ellekilde Blonde said. Doctors, however, said it was highly unlikely that using fertility treatment to overcome genetic causes of infertility could ever breed a race of humans completely unable to conceive naturally.

UNI XC SYU KP1741

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