Scientists in France have found higher incidences of people living with cryptorchidism, environmental contamination from industries like coal mining and the metal industry may contribute to the rise in the number of boys born without descending testicles.
According to French researchers, the number of children born with undescended testicles has increased by as much as 50%, particularly in areas with coal mines and metalwork.
The most prevalent male genital deformity, commonly known as cryptorchidism, affects between 1% and 8% of newborns. It is characterized by undescended testicles. Every year, over 200,000 boys are born in the US with the disease.
A cluster of instances was localized in a former coal mining and metallurgical area in northern France, which is now an industrial location, according to a French study that examined incidences of operated cryptorchidism from 2002 to 2014.
Most of the time, the issue resolves itself by six months of birth, but about one in 100 boys still have undescended testicles, which necessitates surgery to address, however. If left untreated, those with the condition may have fertility problems later in life and face a higher risk of testicular cancer.
According to the study, children in the mining community region had a chance of having one undescended testis that was over half as high as the national average, and they also had a risk of both testes being undescended that was over five times as high.
The study population included 89,382 new cases of operated cryptorchidism in boys under the age of 7, and it is the first to document a recent rise in the condition’s incidence on a nationwide scale.
Dr Joelle Le Moal, a medical epidemiologist at the DATA Science Department, Public Health France, said:
“Our main findings are the increase in the frequency of operated cryptorchidism in France during the study period, and the strong tendency for cases to cluster together in particular locations, “This is the first time that such a finding has been documented at a country level for this birth defect. Our results suggest that the geographical environment could contribute to the clustering of cryptorchidism and interact with socio-economic factors.”
They discovered 24 clusters spread out across France, with the exception of the southwest, using a disease-mapping technique to describe the risk of cryptorchidism according to postcode. The clusters were primarily in the north and central east of France, with the largest cluster being in the city of Lens in the Pas de Calais, a region that had had coal mines.
When compared to the national level, the probability of having one undescended testis increased by more than 50%, and the risk of having both undescended testes (bilateral cryptorchidism) increased by more than five times. The researchers calculated that there were 1,244 instances, which was an excess of 453 cases over what was anticipated for the area.
“The industrial activities identified in the clusters are potentially the source of persistent environmental pollution by metals, dioxins and polychlorinated biphenyls, known as PCBs,” Dr. Joelle added. “PCBs, pesticides and dioxins are suspected to play a role in cryptorchidism and other testicular problems by disrupting hormones.”
Rod Mitchell, professor of developmental endocrinology, MRC Centre for Reproductive Health, University of Edinburgh, said:
“Cryptorchidism is associated with several other male reproductive disorders including testicular cancer and infertility, which may result from reduced testosterone in males during foetal life.
“Therefore, these findings may also have implications for the current decline in male reproductive health in general.
“We have a moral duty to identify and eliminate the factors that are behind the recent increase in the incidence of male reproductive disorders.”