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Low birth weight and male reproductive function

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Scientific interest in morbidity in children born small for gestational age (SGA) has increased considerably over the last few decades. The elevated risk of cardiovascular and metabolic diseases in adulthood in individuals born SGA has been well documented, whereas data on gonadal development are limited. Prospective studies, case-control investigations and registry surveys show that impaired intrauterine growth increases the risks of congenital hypospadias, cryptorchidism and testicular cancer approximately two- to threefold. Although few studies focus on the effect of intrauterine growth on male pubertal development, testicular hormone production or sperm quality, available evidence points towards a subtle impairment of both Sertoli cell and Leydig cell function. Animal studies support the hypothesis that impaired perinatal growth restriction, depending on the timing, can affect postnatal testis size and function into adulthood. Current human data, however, are often based on highly selected hospital populations and lack precise distinctions between low birth weight, SGA, timing of growth restriction and a differentiation of catch-up growth patterns. Despite the methodological inadequacies of individual study results, the combined evidence from all data leaves little doubt that fetal growth restriction is associated with increased risk of male reproductive health problems, including hypospadias, cryptorchidism and testicular cancer.

Original languageEnglish
JournalHormone Research
Volume65 Suppl 3
Pages (from-to)116-22
Number of pages7
ISSN0301-0163
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2006

    Research areas

  • Birth Weight, Cryptorchidism, Female, Fetal Growth Retardation, Genitalia, Male, Germinoma, Gonadotropins, Pituitary, Humans, Hypospadias, Infant, Low Birth Weight, Infant, Newborn, Male, Pregnancy, Puberty, Testicular Neoplasms

ID: 45497156