How To Prevent America's Looming Fertility Crisis

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IVF. (Photo By BSIP/UIG Via Getty Images)
IVF. (Photo By BSIP/UIG Via Getty Images)

For decades, sperm counts in Western countries have been in sharp decline. Researcher Shanna Swan has been investigating why, and what needs to be done to stop what could soon be a fertility crisis.


Shanna Swan, environmental and reproductive epidemiologist. Professor of environmental medicine and public health at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City. Author of "Count Down." (@DrShannaSwan)

From The Reading List

The Guardian: "Shanna Swan: 'Most couples may have to use assisted reproduction by 2045'" — "Shanna Swan is a professor of environmental medicine and public health at Mount Sinai school of medicine in New York City, studying fertility trends. In 2017 she documented how average sperm counts among western men have more than halved in the past 40 years. Count Down is her new book."

GQ: "An Alarming Decline in Sperm Quality Could Threaten the Future of the Human Race, and the Chemicals Likely Responsible Are Everywhere" — "The opening of epidemiologist Shanna Swan's new book sounds a bit like science fiction: We are half as fertile as our grandfathers were. And if the trend continues, we may very well reach a point where the human race is unable to reproduce itself."

New York Times: "This Chemical Can Impair Fertility, but It’s Hard to Avoid" — "Kaci Aitchison Boyle always thought getting pregnant would be easy: just plan some romantic evenings and let nature take its course. So when Boyle and her husband decided to start a family in 2011, she expected to be snuggling a newborn by year’s end."

Scientific American: "Reproductive Problems in Both Men and Women Are Rising at an Alarming Rate" — "When you see or hear a reference to 'the 1 percent,' most people think of socioeconomic status—the people with the top 1 percent of wealth or income in the United States, which is how the term is commonly used in our culture."

The Intercept: "Toxic Chemicals Threaten Humanity's Ability To Reproduce" — "Shanna Swan is the senior author of a 2017 study that documented a dramatic drop in sperm counts in Western countries over the past half-century."

This program aired on April 8, 2021.

Jonathan Chang Producer/Director, On Point
Jonathan is a producer/director at On Point.



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