A recent study has suggested that stress early in pregnancy can impact the baby's sperm count when he's an adult.
According to a study published by the medical journal Human Reproduction, 63 percent of males whose mothers experienced a stressful event — like a death in the family — during early gestation had poorer sperm quality. The findings came from studying women from May 1989 to November 1991. Over 2,804 subjects were surveyed about stressors during the first four months of pregnancy.
Researchers then performed testicular ultrasounds and blood samples on 643 of 1,454 males born from the women in that timeframe by the time they turned 20. They discovered that males born from women who went through a stressful situation within the first four months of their pregnancy ejaculated 36 percent less sperm, and less could swim well compared to males who experienced no stress while in the womb. Not only that, but there was an 11 percent drop in testosterone levels.
With all that in mind, Independent says the minds behind the study admit that there could be other reasons behind this drop in sperm count and testosterone levels. In fact, there were several other factors attributed. From the mother, researchers suggested that socio-economic status, whether or not the mother gave birth before, and even body mass index could have an impact on the male's sperm counts. There are also several factors unrelated to parents that could see a drop in sperm count for a male. Things like smoking, blood pressure, excessive drinking, and weight can play a role.
They also note that there is no way to accurately record how stressful a life event was on a mother. Sure, one can assume the death of a family member would be hard to deal with, but that's not always the case. Each individual is different, so quantifying "stress" is a little tricky.
Still, the findings are fascinating, even with those caveats. There have been a number of studies done regarding stress during pregnancy, but not something that can be this long-lasting on a child. If this research is accurate by a fraction, it could change how we look at pregnancy, and how we deal with life's hardships during such an important time.