Wednesday, 26 March 2008

Sperm Abnormalities Due to Low Folate Intake

A study published in the Journal Human Reproduction has reported that a diet low in folate leads to a higher risk of sperm abnormalities that may cause birth defects like Down's Syndrome or miscarriage.

Numerous studies have advocated women of child bearing age, who are pregnant or thinking about having a baby should supplement 400mcg of folic acid, says UrBod Nutritionist Melody Mackeown, who specialises in pre-conceptual care, fertility and pregnancy. However, researchers are now stressing the importance of folate in men’s diet as low folate levels can be the cause of abnormal sperm.

The researchers found that several micronutrients were associated with a lower frequency of different abnormalities. High folic acid intake was associated with 19% fewer abnormalities (all types) than moderate intake and 20% fewer than men with a low micronutrient intake. There were also reductions in specific types of abnormality. For example, there were 26% fewer sperm with no sex chromosome in the high-intake group compared with the low-intake group. There were also 30% fewer sperm with two X chromosomes (associated with triple X syndrome) and abnormalities on chromosome 21 (associated with Down’s syndrome) in the high-intake group compared with the moderate-intake group.

High total zinc intake reduced the frequency of two X chromosomes by about 50% compared with the moderate-intake group and 39% compared with the low-intake group. Zinc was not associated with lowering the risk of other abnormalities. Vitamin C and vitamin E had no association with sperm abnormalities, but high beta-carotene intake reduced YY abnormalities.

The message is clear, says UrBod Nutritionist Melody Mackeown, a man’s diet is just an important as that of his partner when planning to have a baby.

To find out more about Nutritional support during or before your pregnancy, contact UrBod Nutritionist Melody Mackeown. Dip.ION (mBANT), specialist in pre-conceptual care, fertility and pregnancy care in the city of London, EC2. I have also written a free e-book on how you can improve your fertility and diet during your pregnancy, which can be obtained by clicking on my link.