Cigarette-damaged sperm DNA causes miscarriages

Cigarette-damaged sperm DNA causes miscarriages

Smoking - DNA sperm

Despite contradictory studies over the last decade, fertility researchers have come to the consensus that smoke from cigarettes can not only affect ovaries in women but that the intake of nicotine can fragment the DNA of sperm to such an extent as to cause recurrent miscarriages.

According to Dr Aviva Pinto Rodrigues, a fertility specialist at the Nova IVI fertility centre in Bengaluru, nicotine intake increases a phenomenon called reactive oxygen species, whose levels can greatly increase and damage the sperm DNA.

“The more people smoke, the greater the damage and in that scenario what we see is a damaged sperm still fertilizing the egg, resulting in the high-risk of a premature pregnancy or an abortion,” she said.

Although Dr Vishal Rao of the State’s High Power Committee on Tobacco Control specified that while the connection between cigarette smoking and damage to ovaries has been well-known for a decade, physicians were less clear about the recurrent miscarriages which affect 1% of couples, half of which showed no clear pathology.

Researches have now established that nearly half of all cases of infertility may be associated with a malefactor. According to one research paper: “In couples where the male partner has a high percentage of sperm with fragmented data, many studies indicate that the chances of a successful pregnancy are significantly reduced.

Data in a September 2018 study showed that spontaneous miscarriages occur in 10–15% of clinically recognised pregnancies, with risk factor increases with the age of the pregnant mother. Women in the age group of 20-24 had a 11% chance of a spontaneous miscarriage, while women in the age group of 40-44 had a 51% chance.

The problem is graver than that, added Dr Rao, specifying that couples who smoke and have a child, create weaker progeny who is more susceptible to cancer, while fragmented DNA can cause other health issues in the child such as mental and physical retardation.

“People should be asking themselves about just what it is they are trying to create – a next generation that will be immunologically weak?” he said.

Dr Rodrigues specified that fragmented sperm is not a permanent problem. “Sperm have a lifespan of 70-80 days. If males change their lifestyle during that period, the new crop of sperm will not have fragmentation,” she said.