Stressed pregnant moms may mean lower sperm counts: study

Updated 06 June 2019

Stressed pregnant moms may mean lower sperm counts: study

  • There is a growing evidence that sperms counts among men of European ancestry have, in general, declined over the last 40 years

PARIS: Men whose mothers suffered stressful events such as divorce or job loss in early pregnancy are more likely to have fewer and less active sperm, researchers said Thursday.
Among Australian 20-year-olds born of women who experienced at least three such events during the first 18 weeks of foetal growth, sperm count was a third lower and mobility down by 12 percent compared to other men their age, they reported in the journal Human Reproduction.
Testosterone levels were also lower, by about ten percent.
“Maternal exposure to stressful life events during early pregnancy, a vulnerable period for the development organs, may have important life-long adverse effects on men’s fertility,” concluded senior author Roger Hart, a professor of reproductive medicine at the University of Western Australia.
The link between stress and sperm count disappeared when the challenging events — the death of a close relative or friend, marital problems, severe money woes — occurred only during the final trimester of pregnancy.
Mice experiments have suggested that early gestation — between eight to 14 weeks in humans — is a critical period for male reproductive development.
The new findings, the authors note, establish a clear link between stress and sperm health, but not necessarily a cause-and-effect relationship.
Other factors that can accompany stress such as drug use and smoking may turn out to play equally or more important roles.
But the rodent experiments bolster the theory that stress leads to reduced testosterone production in foetal testes, said Richard Sharpe, an honorary professor at the Center for Reproductive Health at the University of Edinburgh not involved in the study.

“That would support the view that too much stress in early pregnancy might be detrimental to optimal male reproductive development,” he wrote in a comment.
Even the lowest sperm count reported among the men whose mothers had experience repeated stress would not on its own result in infertility, though it might be a contributing factor, the researchers said.
Other factors that impact male fertility included obesity, drinking alcohol, smoking tobacco, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and possibly exposure to chemicals.
To tease out the impact of maternal stress, Hart’s team combed through data from an ongoing, multi-generational study in Western Australia that recruited some 3,000 women in their 18th week of pregnancy between 1989 and 1991.
The mothers completed questionnaires at Week 18 and Week 34, answering questions about stressful life events during the previous months.
A total of 1,454 boys born from this cohort were monitored by researchers over the next two decades as they grew up. When then turned 20, 643 had testicular ultrasound exams, and provided both semen and blood samples for analysis.
There is a growing evidence that sperms counts among men of European ancestry have, in general, declined over the last 40 years.
A review study in 2017 covering 43,000 men found that sperm concentration had gone done by nearly 50 percent over that period, while still remaining within the “normal” range established by the World Health Organization.
At the same time, there was no significant decline in South America, Asia, and Africa.

What happened to the Apollo goodwill moon rocks?

Updated 16 June 2019

What happened to the Apollo goodwill moon rocks?

  • Some of the gifts have either gone missing, were stolen or destroyed over the decades

HOUSTON, Texas: US President Richard Nixon gave moon rocks collected by Apollo 11 and Apollo 17 astronauts to 135 countries around the world and the 50 US states as a token of American goodwill.
While some hold pride of place in museums and scientific institutions, many others are unaccounted for — they have either gone missing, were stolen or even destroyed over the decades.
The list below recounts the stories of some of the missing moon rocks and others that were lost and later found.
It is compiled from research done by Joseph Gutheinz Jr, a retired NASA special agent known as the “Moon Rock Hunter,” his students, and collectSPACE, a website which specializes in space history.

• Both the Apollo 11 and Apollo 17 moon rocks presented to perpetually war-wracked Afghanistan have vanished.

• One of the moon rocks destined for Cyprus was never delivered due to the July 1974 Turkish invasion of the island and the assassination of the US ambassador the following month.
It was given to NASA years later by the son of a US diplomat but has not been handed over to Cyprus.

Joseph Gutheinz, an attorney known as the "Moon Rock Hunter," displays meteorite fragments in his office on May 22, 2019 in Friendswood, Texas. (AFP / Loren Elliot)

• Honduras’s Apollo 17 moon rock was recovered by Gutheinz and Bob Cregger, a US Postal Service agent, in a 1998 undercover sting operation baptized “Operation Lunar Eclipse.”
It had been sold to a Florida businessman, Alan Rosen, for $50,000 by a Honduran army colonel. Rosen tried to sell the rock to Gutheinz for $5 million. It was seized and eventually returned to Honduras.

• Ireland’s Apollo 11 moon rock was on display in Dublin’s Dunsink Observatory, which was destroyed in a 1977 fire. Debris from the observatory — including the moon rock — ended up in the Finglas landfill.

• The Apollo 11 and Apollo 17 moon rocks given to then Libyan leader Col. Muammar Qaddafi have vanished.

• Malta’s Apollo 17 moon rock was stolen from a museum in May 2004. It has not been found.

• Nicaragua’s Apollo 17 moon rock was allegedly sold to someone in the Middle East for $5-10 million. Its Apollo 11 moon rock ended up with a Las Vegas casino owner, who displayed it for a time in his Moon Rock Cafe. Bob Stupak’s estate turned it over to NASA when he died. It has since been returned to Nicaragua.

• Romania’s Apollo 11 moon rock is on display in a museum in Bucharest. Romania’s Apollo 17 moon rock is believed to have been sold by the estate of former dictator Nicolae Ceausescu, who was executed along with his wife, Elena, on Christmas Day 1989.

Spain’s Apollo 17 moon rock is on display in Madrid’s Naval Museum after being donated by the family of Admiral Luis Carrero Blanco, who was assassinated by the Basque separatist group ETA in 1973.
Spain’s Apollo 11 moon rock is missing and is believed to be in the hands of the family of former dictator Francisco Franco.