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Environmental safety for growth and reproduction: a multinational effort

Preliminary research into the effects of radiation exposure on the reproductive health of men throughout the Russian Federation indicates a relatively high level of dysfunction, which may be linked to radioactivity.
Environmental safety for growth and reproduction: a multinational effort
Partners from Moscow, Copenhagen and Edinburgh took part in the study, which focused on men from various regions throughout Russia, who had been exposed to high levels of radiation between 1986 and 1987. Although male hormonal levels appeared normal according to World Health Organisation figures, there was substantial evidence of hypogonadism, which can be linked to reduced pituitary function.

Semen analysis also appeared normal according to WHO criteria, but researchers found frequent cases of reduced semen volume and sperm motility among the subjects. Control subjects from areas with lower levels of radioactivity also showed a high incidence of hypogonadism, however, which suggests that radiation, may not be the sole factor affecting male reproductive health in this region.

Further research into the effects of environmental factors on human growth and reproduction will be necessary in order to identify the causes of these disorders and to assess their potential consequences for fertility and pregnancy. The partners plan to develop animal models through which to evaluate the effects of endocrine disorders on fertility, and to establish preinstall registers in clinics throughout Russia as a means of monitoring pregnancy outcomes. Support for further research and development is sought.

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