Men should stay away from common household plastics if they are looking to have children, scientists warn.
Gender-bending chemicals can affect the development of a baby after just five days in the womb, new research suggests.
UNIVERSITY OF MASSACHUSETTS, United States – On December 7, 2016 Stephen Matthews wrote for Daily Mail it is widely known that changes to a growing foetus within the blastocyst stage can lead to an increased risk of birth defects.
However, it could already be too late for some seeking children as phthalates are detectable in around 99 per cent of adults, experts say.
They are added to household cleaners, food packaging, fragrances, cosmetics and personal-care products to make plastic more flexible.
Researchers from the University of Massachusetts investigated whether preconception exposure to the toxic chemicals had an effect on reproductive success.
They recruited 50 couples undergoing IVF treatment and measured phthalate exposure in urine from both men and women.
Semen was also assessed before the 761 oocytes – immature eggs – were fertilised.
Their quality was then measured at the cleavage stage (day three), where 423 managed to survive. Just under 50 progressed to day five.
However, at the cleavage stage there was found to be no overall significant link between male and female exposures.
But high concentrations in men was associated with a pronounced decrease in blastocyst quality.
Study author Dr Richard Pilsner said the findings provide the first link between preconception phthalate exposure and embryo development.
However, he says further research is needed to investigate the long-term effects of altered embryonic development.
Such findings will be of significance for both the general population and those undergoing IVF, he added.