BBH1: Fetal Programming of semen quality (FEPOS)

This study is performed at Department of Occupational and Environmental Medicine at Bispebjerg Hospital in collaboration with University of Copenhagen, Reproductive Medicine at Lund University, Department of Clinical Epidemiology at Aarhus University Hospital and Department of Public Health at Aarhus University.

The overarching objective of this project is to unravel causes of male infertility with the perspective of reinforcing preventive actions, to increase reproductive health in future generations, and to reduce the need for assisted reproduction.

While the vast majority of research into environmental risk factors to male reproductive health have addressed ongoing exposures of adult men, this project focuses on exposures taking place in fetal life and hereby, for the first time in a large epidemiological study, addresses the fetal programming hypothesis with respect to male fertility.

The Danish National Birth Cohort (DNBC) contains extensive data on approximately 100,000 pregnancies and births from 1996-2002 in Denmark. The database offers a unique opportunity to correlate maternal exposure and living conditions during pregnancy with various fertility factors measured in sons 19 years after birth.

The most important maternal exposures include persistent and non-persistent environmental toxicants including phthalates, polychlorinated biphenyls, perfluorinated compounds, and other pesticides, occupational psycho-social stressors, and lifestyle factors such as obesity, gestational weight gain, maternal smoking, alcoholic and caffeine consumption.

Participant enrollment in the FEPOS cohort is ongoing and we expect to include at least 1,000 sons by the end of 2019. Enrolled participants answer a comprehensive web-based questionnaire about puberty, lifestyle, and reproductive health. Subsequently, they are physically examined at a clinic, where they also provide a sample of semen, urine, blood, and hair. To date 4,256 have been invited to participate in the FEPOS cohort. In total, 1,389 are interested in the project and 666 have declined. So far, 718 have been enrolled and provided questionnaire data and biological samples.

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