A new study suggests that six in ten women who live in places with high pollution- like by busy roads- are posed a great risk of becoming infertile.
This, according to researchers is because inhaling toxic air such as nitrogen dioxide from automobiles impacts negatively on a hormone which regulates the number of eggs in the ovaries.
Found to ‘severely reduce ovarian reserves,’ scientists have warned that constant exposure to these poisonous substances does not only limit a woman’s chances of being able ‘to achieve a family’ but also increases the likelihood of early menopause.
In the study which saw Italian scientists analyze the levels of Anti-Mullerian Hormone (AMH) in 1,318 women using blood tests, the levels of AMH among women living in Modena between 2007 and 2017, were compared with their addresses.
A computer analysis was then made to assess the daily exposure to pollutants of each woman; and around six in ten women whose homes were on busy roads were found to have low AMH, whereas the rate among women residing in less congested areas was fewer than four in ten.
The Anti-Mullerian Hormone, which is secreted by cells in the ovary are used to determine a woman’s chances of conceiving; and low levels typically point to deficiencies in a woman’s ‘ovarian reserve.’
Although AMH levels drain naturally as women get older, various factors such as smoking and diet also pose dire effects; and per the findings of the scientists at the University of Modena, AMH levels declined after women turned 25.
A link has also been established between lower AMH levels and daily exposure to pollutants, as scientists note that pollution may speed the ageing of women’s reproductive systems, according to The Times.
Professor of clinical reproductive medicine at the University of Edinburgh, Richard Anderson, explained the findings: ‘While this does not suggest a short-term problem for women trying to fall pregnant, it might indicate that women exposed to high levels of pollution might have a shorter opportunity to achieve a family, and even an earlier menopause.’
With participants split into four groups reflecting an average daily PM10, PM2.5 and NO2 concentrations, significantly lower levels of AMH in women exposed to the most pollutants were found, compared to the bottom 25 per cent.
62 per cent of women in the group exposed to the most pollution had a severe reduction in their ovarian reserves, while only 38 per cent was recorded in the other three groups on an average.
The lowest AMH levels were found in women constantly exposed to volumes of PM10, PM2.5 and NO2 above 29.5, 22 and 26 mcg/m3, respectively.
Professor Antonio La Marca hence projected that women in polluted areas are up to three times more likely to have a ‘severely reduced ovarian reserve’.
‘The influence of age and smoking on AMH serum levels is now largely accepted. But a clear effect of environmental factors has not been demonstrated so far,’ he said.
‘Living in an area associated with high levels of air pollutants in our study increased the risk of severely reduced ovarian reserve by a factor of two or three.’
The findings were presented at the 35th meeting of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology in Vienna.