11 November 2002
Quality Low in Farming Region
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
LOUIS (AP) -- A study has found the quality of semen significantly
poorer in men from rural mid-Missouri than in males from urban
areas, and its authors believe agricultural chemicals might explain
University of Missouri researchers said their study offered the
first convincing evidence that semen quality -- measured by the
count, shape and movement of sperm -- varies significantly among
regions of the United States.
study appeared in Monday's online edition of Environmental Health
Perspectives, a publication of the National Institute of Environmental
men from mid-Missouri's Boone County were found to have a mean
sperm count of about 59 million per milliliter, compared to 103
million for men in New York, 99 million in Minnesota and 81 million
in Los Angeles. The sperm of the Boone County men also tended
to be less vigorous, the study found.
Shanna Swan of the University of Missouri-Columbia, the lead researcher,
said she and her collaborators believe that environmental factors
such as the use of agricultural chemicals might contribute to
make up more than half of Boone County, and most use chemical
fertilizers, herbicides or pesticides. In contrast, 0 to 19 percent
of the urban areas studied were devoted to farming.
researchers studied 512 couples receiving prenatal care at clinics
in Columbia, Minneapolis, Los Angeles and New York as part of
an ongoing Study for Future Families funded by the National Institutes
said previous studies of semen quality were conducted in large
cities, except for a study in Iowa City, Iowa, that also found
lower sperm concentration.
still do not know why semen quality varies geographically, but
are testing their hypothesis that exposure to agricultural chemicals
through contaminated air or water plays a role.
study was conducted in collaboration with researchers at the University
of Minnesota, the University of California at Los Angeles Medical
Center, the University of California, Davis, and Mount Sinai School