Women who live in areas with high pollution may face triple the risk of becoming interfile, a study has suggested.
Researchers fear breathing in toxic air disturbs a crucial hormone which regulates the number of eggs in the ovaries.
The findings are believed to be the first to show exposure to pollutants, such as nitrogen dioxide from car fumes, ‘severely reduce ovarian reserves’.
Italian scientists took blood tests to analyse the levels of anti-Mullerian hormone (AMH) in 1,318 women.
Women who live in areas with high pollution are at triple the risk of becoming interfile, an Italian study has found
The hormone, secreted by cells in the ovary, is used by many IVF clinics to gauge a woman’s chances of getting pregnant. Levels get lower as women get older, and it is also affected by smoking and diet.
Low levels typically indicate the woman has a poor ‘ovarian reserve’ – the number of resting immature eggs, or follicles.
The levels of AMH among the women, living in Modena in Italy between 2007 and 2017, were then compared with their addresses.
The researchers then used a computer analysis to assessed the daily exposure to pollutants of each woman.
Around six in ten women whose homes were on busy roads were at risk of infertility because they had low AMH.
In comparison, the rate among women residing in less congested areas was fewer than four in ten.
Professor Antonio La Marca, of the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, presented the findings at a major fertility conference.
He said: ‘The influence of age and smoking on AMH serum levels is now largely accepted.
‘But a clear effect of environmental factors has not been demonstrated so far.’
The findings were presented at the 35th meeting of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology in Vienna.
DOES EXPOSURE TO AIR POLLUTION DURING PREGNANCY CAUSE BIRTH DEFECTS?
Women exposed to air pollution before getting pregnant are nearly 20 percent more likely to have babies with birth defects, research suggested in January 2018.
Living within 5km of a highly-polluted area one month before conceiving makes women more likely to give birth to babies with defects such as cleft palates or lips, a study by University of Cincinnati found.
For every 0.01mg/m3 increase in fine air particles, birth defects rise by 19 percent, the research adds.
Fine air particles, which weigh less than 0.0025mg, are given out in vehicle exhaust fumes and, when breathed in, become deposited in the lungs where they enter the circulation.
Previous research suggests this causes birth defects as a result of women suffering inflammation and ‘internal stress’.
Physicians Committee figures reveal birth defects affect three percent of all babies born in the US.
Around six percent of infants suffer in the UK, according to a report from the British Isles Network of Congenital Anomaly Registers
The researchers analyzed 290,000 babies living in Ohio between 2006 and 2010.
Monthly fine air particle levels were matched to the home addresses of pregnant women before and after they conceived.