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Male reproductive health and the environment

R John Aitken, Niels E Skakkebaek and Shaun D Roman
Med J Aust 2006; 185 (8): 414-415.

Are xenobiotics in the environment affecting fertility in Australian men?

Australia is one of a long list of nations experiencing a recent and dramatic decline in fertility rate.1 The reasons behind this trend are complex, recent, and generally appear to be independent of the socioeconomic status of the country. Deferred childbearing and improved contraceptive use are undoubtedly major factors. However, it is also intriguing that population growth is below replacement rate in several countries such as Sri Lanka, Denmark and Spain, where there have been no obvious increases in abortion rates or contraceptive use. This loss of fertility has affected countries such as Denmark to the point that about 7% of all newborn babies are now being generated by assisted conception.2 In Australia and New Zealand, the number of babies born as a result of assisted conception procedures has increased threefold over the past 10 years and, despite recent increases, our birth rate is still well below that needed to maintain the population at its present level.

  • R John Aitken1
  • Niels E Skakkebaek2
  • Shaun D Roman1

  • 1 Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence in Biotechnology and Development, University of Newcastle, Newcastle, NSW.
  • 2 University Department of Growth and Reproduction, Rigshospitalet, Copenhagen, Denmark.


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