Dr. Michael Bloom, University at Albany - Infertility and Environmental Toxins
Albany, NY – In today's Academic Minute, Dr. Michael Bloom of the University at Albany explains how environmental toxins are contributing to increasing rates of infertility.
Michael Bloom is an assistant professor of environmental health sciences at the University at Albany. His research focuses on the effects of toxic environmental agents on human reproductive function at the population level, including in vitro fertilization. He holds a Ph.D. from the University at Buffalo.
Dr. Michael Bloom - Infertility and Environmental Toxins
As couples delay childbearing in the U.S., often to pursue careers, and are exposed to an increasing array of toxicants in air, water and food the rate of infertility is also on the increase. Clinically, infertility is defined as the failure to achieve a pregnancy within 12 months of regular unprotected intercourse. Estimates from the 2002 U.S. National Survey of Family Growth conducted by the Centers for Disease Control suggest there are 2 million U.S. couples who desire children, but are unable to achieve a pregnancy without assistance.
Of 7.3 million U.S. women who received infertility services in 2002, 3% were treated using an assisted reproductive technology, or ART, which involves the manipulation of human gametes outside of the human body to achieve pregnancy. In vitro fertilization, or IVF, accounts for more than 99% of ART procedures. In fact, 1% of all live U.S. births are now a result of IVF pregnancies. Success rates for a single IVF cycle, defined as the delivery of a live infant, vary widely but are approximately 29% on average.
A growing body of scientific evidence suggests that environmental factors impact the success of IVF, in particular exposure to metals including mercury, cadmium, and lead, and organic compounds including polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, and the plastic compound bisphenol A, or BPA. Evidence suggests reduced rates of egg fertilization, compromised embryo development, and reduced rates of uterine embryo implantation in association with increased exposure. Identification of environmental factors that adversely impact IVF will help to provide patients with the knowledge required to reduce exposure, maximize the probability for IVF success, and achieve their dream of parenthood.