Increased Levels Of Ultraviolet Radiation Linked To Poor Fertility

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Increased levels of ultraviolet radiation may have an effect on fertility, according to a study published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

"Several long-term studies on a wide variety of species, including humans, have revealed that the environment an organism is exposed to early in life may influence adult life-history traits, such as survival, fertility and lifetime reproductive success," the study’s author wrote.

Researchers took church records in Norway dating from 1750 to 1900 involving just over 9,000 people. They examined various parts of each person’s life history such as the age women had children, how many children survived after birth and how many of the children went on to have children of their own. Researchers then compared that information with environmental data at the time of each period in question and found that children born in years of high solar activity had greater mortality rates than those born in less solar activity.

Children born in years of high solar activity had a lifespan average of 5.2 years less than other children. Differences in mortality were the most noticeable in the first 2 years of life.

"One proximate explanation for the relationship between solar activity and infant mortality may be an effect of folate degradation (vitamin B) caused by UVR," the authors wrote. Folate, or folic acid, is important for pregnant women since it helps to prevent certain birth defects.

Children born in years of high solar activity were also found to have fewer children themselves, since they couldn’t reproduce very many. Fertility and lifetime reproductive success were reduced among low-status women exposed to the sun more often. However, families in low-status situations were generally most affected by sun exposure.

Researchers admitted that diet may have also been a qualifying factor in preventing damage to fetuses.

Source: Medical News Today / Photo Credit: Flickr


 
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