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The Foods We Eat Early in Life Affect Future Fertility

The reproductive success of men and women is influenced by the food they receive at an early stage in life, according to new research by the University of Sheffield.

The research, which was published online this month (17 December 2010) in the journal Ecology, is the first study of its kind to show that early life food can have a serious influence on the life-long fertility of individuals.

The research team, led by Dr Ian Rickard from the Department of Animal and Plant Sciences at the University, used a combination of church record data on births in 18th century Finland and agricultural data on crop yields of rye and barley from the same time and place.

The study showed that in men and women born into poor families, food in very early life was related to the probability of reproducing. Approximately half of the poor people who were born in a year in which both rye and barley yields were low would not go on to have any children during their entire lives. However almost everyone from a poor family born in bumper harvest years, when both crops were high, would reproduce at least once in their life.

These results indicate that food received during prenatal or early postnatal life may limit the development of the reproductive system.

Dr Rickard said: "Our results show that the food received by children born into poor families had an influence on their later reproductive success. These results have implications for our understanding of early environmental effects on human and animal health and will help shed light on our current understanding of fertility and whether it is influenced by individual or social factors."

Genetically Modified Foods a Culprit

Scientists in Austria recently conducted the first ever long-term multi-generational feeding study of Monsanto's genetically modified (GM) corn (NK 603 x MON 810) in mice. The study consisted of two groups: an experimental group, which was fed a 33% GM corn (maize) feed, and a control group, which was fed an equivalent non-GM corn feed. The mice were allowed to live a natural life and were monitored for four generations. Scientists recorded organ weight, gene expression, body mass, metabolism, life span and number of offspring of both groups of mice. The scientists found that mice fed GM corn had significantly less pups per litter than the control group on the third and fourth generation. Furthermore, pups whose parents were fed GM-feed weighed less at birth and at weaning and experienced significantly higher mortality rates than those fed non-GM corn. Lead author of the study Professor Zentek reported that there was a direct link between the decrease in fertility and the GM diet and mice fed non-GM corn reproduced more efficiently.

BPA

Recent research has found that exposure to current levels of Bisphenol A (BPA) can affect gene expression and fertility of women just 12 hours after exposure.

BPA is a chemical found in baby bottles, water bottles, canned foods and an array of other consumer products. The potential health effects of BPA are no longer debatable and the evidence of its impaired affect on fertility are now well established.

If you've used water bottles, plastic of any kind (#3, #7, etc), or conventionally packed products of any kind or cans and insulated cartons of any kind, chances are you have been exposed to BPA.

Human studies have found BPA in many tissues and fluids, including urine, blood, breast milk, the amniotic fluid of pregnant women and the antral fluid of mature follicles. A national survey conducted by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2003-2004 found BPA in 93 percent of the 2,517 people (age 6 and up) who were tested.

Previous research from North Carolina State University and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) showed significant reproductive health effects in rats that have been exposed to bisphenol-A (BPA) at levels equivalent to or below the dose that has been thought not to produce any adverse effects.


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