Fertility problems, recurrent miscarriages, and pregnancy complications can occur when maternal immunological tolerance of the fetus is impaired. Gerard Chaouat and colleagues from Inserm et Assistance Publique et Universite Paris Sud Orsay, Hopital Antoine Beclere, Clamart Cedex, France (now in Hopital Saint Louis, Paris), trace the evolution of the science of reproductive immunology to show how the current understanding of maternal-fetal tolerance/dialogue has developed, and its implications for the treatment of infertility disorders. Their study appears in a topical issue of Advances in Neuroimmune Biology on maternal-fetal interactions. In the earliest era of reproductive immunology, immunologists searched for generalized immune suppressive activity to explain why the embryo's tissue is not rejected by the mother during pregnancy.
Researchers at the University of Cincinnati have found evidence that, in addition to affecting the heart, brain and nervous system, bisphenol A (BPA), could affect a mammal's ability to reproduce by altering the structure of the uterus in ways that can progress to a potentially fatal infection. These findings are published in the advance online edition of the Journal of Reproductive Toxicology. Infection and inflammation of the uterus, or pyometra, is most commonly seen in animals like dogs and cats but can also affect humans. It is a result of hormonal and structural changes in the uterus lining and can be deadly if left untreated. BPA is an industrial chemical and environmental pollutant found in many hard plastic products. "This condition can be caused by chronic exposure to estrogens;
Many environmental and public health officials are concerned about the potential health effects of phthalates, which are common chemicals used to make plastics softer and more pliable. In the first study to examine what effect in utero doses of phthalates have on the reproductive system of mice, Brown University toxicologists found that extremely high doses were associated with significant changes, such as a shortened reproductive lifespan and abnormal cell growth in mammary glands. The administered doses of MEHP, the chemical that results when animals metabolize the industrial phthalate DEHP, were much higher than any normal environmental exposure that people or animals would encounter, said Mary Hixon, assistant professor of pathology and laboratory medicine (research) in The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University and a study co-author.
Freezing eggs or ovarian tissue for the sole purpose of delaying childbearing for social reasons may prove too costly for society, according to a recent analysis by a University of Illinois at Chicago researcher. Fertility preservation - freezing eggs or ovarian tissue - was originally intended for women undergoing medical treatments that could affect their fertility. But now, fertility centers around the country are offering these technologies to women who are not undergoing treatment, but who are "trying to create a backup plan for delaying pregnancy, " says Dr. Jennifer Hirshfeld-Cytron, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at UIC and lead author of the study, published in the March issue of Fertility and Sterility. Using decision-analysis techniques, the researchers compared the cost-per-live-birth for three alternative strategies a 25-year-old woman might use if she wants to delay childbearing until age 40.
A study in Europe's leading reproductive medicine journal Human Reproduction, shows that men's diets could be linked to their sperm quality, particularly the amount and type of different fats they consume. A study in 99 American men demonstrated that a high total fat intake is linked to lower total sperm count and concentration. It also showed that men, who consumed more omega-3 polyunsaturated fats, i.e. fats found in fish and plant oils, had better formed sperm compared with those who ate less of these fats. ‚ ®The researchers warn however, that the findings need to be supported by further research to validate the impact of fats on men's fertility given that this study was only performed in a small number participants. Professor Jill Attaman, Clinical and Research Fellow in Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility at Massachusetts General Hospital and an Instructor in Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Biology at Harvard Medical School declared: "In the meantime, if men make changes to their diets so as to reduce the amount of saturated fat they eat and increase their omega-3 intake, then this may not only improve their general health, but could improve their reproductive health too.