This is a compelling study looking at yet another potential long term effect of being born to a mum who suffered a stressful event in pregnancy. Another reason why mums need to be supported to negate or reduce stress is pregnancy.
Stress early in pregnancy is associated with reduced sperm counts and lower testosterone levels in adult sons, a new study has found.
The study, in Human Reproduction, included 643 men, 407 of whose mothers had been exposed to a stressful event within the first 18 weeks of pregnancy: death of a relative or friend, job loss, divorce, pregnancy concerns, marital problems, money issues or other stresses.
The researchers examined the men when they were 20 years old. They found that on average, compared with men unexposed to maternal stress, those who were exposed to three or more stresses in early gestation had a 36 percent lower sperm count, 12 percent lower sperm motility (that is, fewer sperm swimming efficiently), and 11 percent lower blood testosterone levels.
The critical development period for the normal growth of male reproductive organs is 8 to 14 weeks’ gestation, and the association was not significant after 18 weeks of pregnancy.