'Toxic Sperm' Linked to Child Ills

Gene material in sperm may be hurt by heavy drinking, smoking: study
By Zach Samalin,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 19, 2008 2:50 AM CST
(AP Photo/Francois Mori)   (Associated Press)
camera-icon View 2 more images

(Newser) – Men who smoke or drink heavily may transmit genetic abnormalities through their damaged sperm, leading to child health complications, miscarriages or stillbirth, researchers have found. The effects of environmental toxins on paternal health—long held to be far less important than that of mothers—may play a crucial role in explaining birth defects, a researcher told a conference of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Boston.

The animal studies also found that pesticides may alter the genetic material sperm carry. "If I were a young man I would not drink heavily and I would not be smoking two packs of cigarettes per day while trying to conceive a child," said a scientist. "When you harm the male reproductive system you can see multi-generational harm. We need to open our eyes and look at the evidence."