Baby bust: Here is what’s driving the rapidly declining birth rates and reduced fertility, according to recent study
(NaturalHealth365) Birth rates are declining around the world, including here in the United States. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the nation’s birth rate fell by roughly 4 percent in 2020; experts also project roughly 300,000 fewer American births than usual in 2021.
But this isn’t just a matter of women choosing to delay pregnancy, data suggests. The proliferation of industrial chemicals and environmental toxins linked to fertility problems also appears to harm women’s health and reproduction.
Hundreds of common industrial chemicals linked to declining egg quantity, infertility issues among women
The Pew Research Center calls it a looming “baby bust.” Birth rates are declining in some parts of the world so significantly that they are falling below repopulation levels, which refers to the number of children per woman needed to maintain population stability.
In the United States, says Pew Research Center, the fertility rate hit a record low in 2019 (pre-pandemic), marking the fifth year in a row that fertility rates went down. They cite factors like delays in marriage, increased pursuit of higher education, and “lingering effects of the Great Recession” as reasons why these rates fall so precipitously. But as Children’s Health Defense explains, no conversation about female fertility can happen without also talking about women’s exposure to environmental chemicals.
The truth is, women are exposed to several thousand environmental chemicals – many of which are known toxicants – over the course of their lifetimes. The cumulative effects of these toxins contribute to growing concerns over reduced egg quality and quantity, infertility, and child health problems, research says.
In a 2019 review published in Fertility and Sterility, a pair of researchers from the Center for Reproductive Health at the University of California, San Francisco, highlight the damaging health effects of a number of common environmental toxins, including:
- Endocrine-disrupting chemicals, including bisphenol A, phthalates, PBDEs
Found in over 90 percent of the human population, these chemicals are linked to everything from birth defects and pregnancy loss to early puberty in female children, emotional issues in male children, and abnormal fetal neurodevelopment.
Children’s Health Defense also cited a recent study of theirs in which they assessed the egg quantity of 60 women undergoing cesarean sections. Their research revealed, “significant connections” between lower egg count and higher concentrations of PBDE (a flame retardant), PCB (found in coolants), and DDE (a DDT by-product). This connection persisted even after accounting for the natural age-related decline in egg quantity, suggesting that environmental toxin exposure is a health risk women of all ages must be aware of.
What can be done? Here are simple ways to decrease your toxic exposure and support fertility
Given the sheer amount of air pollution, conventional agricultural practices, and other environmental threats we face, it’s virtually impossible to completely eliminate our exposure to toxins. But if you’re a woman who is pregnant, trying to conceive, or may get pregnant someday, there are a few simple strategies you can follow to minimize your exposure as much as possible:
- Remove your shoes before entering your home
- Buy organic fruits and vegetables when possible and wash produce thoroughly before eating
- Avoid processed and canned foods
- Never microwave plastic food containers nor put them in the dishwasher – better yet, get rid of plastic food containers altogether and replace them with glass or stainless steel options
- Avoid touching cash register receipts
- Take a hard look at all your household and cosmetic products, and replace them with safer options (look for key phrases like “phthalate-free” and “fragrance-free”)
- Avoid buying new furniture, curtains, and rugs while pregnant, and always ask if they contain flame retardants
- Use a high-quality HEPA filter for your home
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