Falling sperm counts and changes to reproductive development could lead to a fertility crisis that would threaten the future of the human race, according to Mt. Sinai Medical School epidemiologist Shanna Swan.
Swan, who co-authored a 2017 study that found the total sperm count in the West has fallen by 59% between 1973 and 2011, warns that "the current state of reproductive affairs can’t continue much longer without threatening human survival" in her new book, "Count Down: How Our Modern World Is Threatening Sperm Counts, Altering Male and Female Reproductive Development, and Imperiling the Future of the Human Race."
She told Axios: "If you look at the curve on sperm count and project it forward — which is always risky — it reaches zero in 2045. That's a little concerning, to say the least."
Swan notes in her book that "of five possible criteria for what makes a species endangered, only one needs to be met; the current state of affairs for humans meets at least three."
In 1964 the global fertility rate, or the number of births per women in the world, was 5.06. In 2018 the rate was 2.4.
According to Swan, contraception, cultural changes, and the cost of childrearing is part of the reason for the low rates, but indicators like miscarriage rates and earlier puberty for girls point to other factors. Swan suggests that "everywhere chemicals," from plastics, cosmetics, and pesticides "and unhealthy lifestyle practices in our modern world are disrupting our hormonal balance, causing various degrees of reproductive havoc."
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