Pollution may cause newborns’ testicles to be in the wrong place – study


  • A new study claimed that pollution can be a factor in the increasing cases of cryptorchidism, or the defect of having testicles in the wrong place among newborn babies.
  • Mining, metal works, mechanical works, pesticides and other chemicals were the identified triggers linked to the defect.
  • The study suggested doing further research on the matter.

Pollution could be the one to blame for the growing cases of newborn babies with undescended testicles.

French researchers warned that babies born with testicles in the wrong place, also known as cryptorchidism, climbed by 50%, especially in areas with coal mines and metal works.

Cryptorchidism, the most common male genital defect, affects one to eight percent of newborns. In the US alone, about 200,000 boys are born with this condition yearly.

The deficiency can naturally be corrected within six months upon birth, but there are cases — one out of 100 boys — where surgery is needed. Untreated cryptorchidism may possibly lead to fertility problems and a higher risk of testicular cancer.

 Some chemicals, like phthalates and pesticides, have been linked to this inborn defect.

“Our main findings are the increase in the frequency of operated cryptorchidism in France during the study period and the strong tendency for cases to cluster together in particular locations,” study co-author Dr. Joëlle Le Moal, a medical epidemiologist at the DATA Science Department with Public Health France, said in a statement.

Focusing on 89,382 French boys had cryptorchidism between 2002 and 2014, the landmark study used a mapping model on the patients’ home addresses and identified 24 clusters.

The largest concentration was around a former coal mining area in the city of Lens, where cryptorchidism cases jumped a 50% increase versus national levels.

“This area includes the two production sites of a former smelter, where most of the local population was previously employed,” Dr. Le Moal said, adding that when it closed in 2003, it “induced widespread environmental pollution with metals, especially lead and cadmium.”

Eight of the 24 clusters had mining activity, while 17 clusters had metal works, and 16 had mechanical works around. Agricultural areas, where pesticides were a commonplace, also had high cases.

“Our results suggest that the geographical environment could contribute to the clustering of cryptorchidism and interact with socio-economic factors,” Dr. Le Moal further said. “The industrial activities identified in the clusters are potentially the source of persistent environmental pollution by metals, dioxins and polychlorinated biphenyls, known as PCBs. PCBs, pesticides and dioxins are suspected to play a role in cryptorchidism and other testicular problems by disrupting hormones.”

Other factors causing the disorder include low-economic status, smoking during pregnancy, and premature births.

As the study only included boys who got operated, the extent of health problems was discounted. It suggested to have further research on its several hypotheses.

Source: Study Finds

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