The Grapevine

Air Pollution Found To Affect Women’s Fertility

A recent study found that air pollution does not only cause respiratory problems among mammals but also adversely affects women’s fertility. Researchers found that constant exposure to polluted air also increases the risk of cancer and other cardiovascular disorders.

During the annual meeting of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology, a study published in American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) was presented and it showed the side effects of constant exposure to air pollution in women. The researchers examined 1,300 Italian women, specifically their anti-Mullerian hormone level measurements for 10 years were assessed. The team found that women who smoked regularly became less fertile with age. Smoking is one form of air pollution.

The anti-Mullerian hormone (AMH) is a protein produced by follicular cells of the ovaries. Its level is used as a proxy for resting follicles in the ovaries known as the “ovarian reserve,” a determinant of a woman’s fertility.

Past studies published in the American Society for Reproductive Medicine have confirmed that high AMH levels may be corrected with age since they decline as women get older, especially those who have already reached 25 years and above. As per Springer, smoking also reduces AMH levels which explains why women become less fertile with regular exposure to air pollutants such as cigarette smoke.

In the latest study, the researchers used the women’s AMH data and collated them with environmental data extracted from each participant’s geographic location. This allowed the researchers to consider the level of air pollution in each location to determine if that also contributed to the decline of their AMH levels. They looked at daily particular matter (PM) in those areas including the levels of nitrogen dioxide in the air since this is a form of polluting gas.

After 10 years of research, they found that the women’s ovarian reserve was adversely affected by high levels of environmental pollution including cigarette smoke. Their fertility levels also decreased when the pollution levels increased. The presence of nitrogen dioxide and other air pollutants were specifically correlated with the women’s decreasing fertility.

According to lead study author and obstetrics-gynecology professor at the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia in Italy Antonio La Marca, M.D., Ph.D., pollution also adversely affects sperm quality which is one factor that makes fertility treatments fail, as per Reuters. This also led to an increased risk in stillbirths and miscarriages among women, according to a study published in the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

Air Pollution Indian make their way along a path amidst smog and fog conditions during a cold morning in Faridabad on February 6, 2019. Minnesota officials found that manufacturing company Water Gremlin has been leaking cancer-linked chemical into the air for a decade or more. Money Sharma/AFP/Getty Images