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Fetal Programming of Semen Quality (FEPOS) Cohort – A DNBC Male-Offspring Cohort

Authors Keglberg Hærvig K, Bonde JP, Ramlau-Hansen CH, Toft G, Hougaard KS, Specht IO, Giwercman A, Nybo Andersen AM, Olsen J, Lindh C, Bjerre Høyer B, Tøttenborg SS

Received 17 December 2019

Accepted for publication 11 May 2020

Published 17 July 2020 Volume 2020:12 Pages 757—770

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/CLEP.S242631

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 4

Editor who approved publication: Professor Vera Ehrenstein


Katia Keglberg Hærvig,1,2 Jens Peter Bonde,1,2 Cecilia Høst Ramlau-Hansen,3 Gunnar Toft,4 Karin Sørig Hougaard,2,5 Ina Olmer Specht,6 Aleksander Giwercman,7 Anne-Marie Nybo Andersen,2 Jørn Olsen,3 Christian Lindh,8 Birgit Bjerre Høyer,1,* Sandra Søgaard Tøttenborg1,*

1Department of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Bispebjerg & Frederiksberg Hospital, Copenhagen, Denmark; 2Department of Public Health, The Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark; 3Department of Public Health, Research Unit for Epidemiology, Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark; 4Department of Clinical Epidemiology, Aarhus University Hospital, Aarhus, Denmark; 5National Research Centre for the Working Environment, Copenhagen, Denmark; 6The Parker Institute, Research Unit for Dietary Studies, Bispebjerg & Frederiksberg Hospital, Copenhagen, Denmark; 7Molecular Reproductive Medicine, Department of Translational Medicine, Lund University, Lund, Sweden; 8Division of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Department of Laboratory Medicine, Lund University, Lund, Sweden

*These authors contributed equally to this work

Correspondence: Sandra Søgaard Tøttenborg
Department of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Bispebjerg & Frederiksberg Hospital, Bispebjerg Bakke 23F, Entrance 20F, 1st Floor, Copenhagen 2400, NV, Denmark
Tel +45 23 35 58 85
Email sandra.soegaard.toettenborg@regionh.dk

Background: Prenatal exposures may contribute to male infertility in adult life, but large-scale epidemiological evidence is still lacking. The Fetal Programming of Semen quality (FEPOS) cohort was founded to provide means to examine if fetal exposures can interfere with fetal reproductive development and ultimately lead to reduced semen quality and reproductive hormone imbalances in young adult men.
Methods: Young adult men at least 18 years and 9 months of age born to women in the Danish National Birth Cohort living in relative proximity to Copenhagen or Aarhus and for whom a maternal blood sample and two maternal interviews during pregnancy were available were invited to FEPOS. Recruitment began in March 2017 and ended in December 2019. The participants answered a comprehensive questionnaire and underwent a physical examination where they delivered a semen, urine, and hair sample, measured their own testicular volume, and had blood drawn.
Results: In total 21,623 sons fulfilled eligibility criteria of whom 5697 were invited and 1058 participated making the response rate 19%. Semen characteristics did not differ between sons from the Copenhagen and Aarhus clinics. When comparing the FEPOS semen parameters to similar cohorts, the median across all semen characteristics was slightly lower for FEPOS participants, although with smaller variation.
Conclusion: With its 1058 young adult men, the FEPOS cohort is the largest population-based male-offspring cohort worldwide specifically designed to investigate prenatal determinants of semen quality. Wide-ranging information on maternal health, lifestyle, socioeconomic status, occupation, and serum concentrations of potential reproductive toxicants during pregnancy combined with biological markers of fertility in their sons collected after puberty allow for in-depth investigations of the ‘fetal origins of adult disease hypothesis’.

Keywords: male infertility, prenatal exposure, fetal exposure, maternal-fetal exchange, semen quality, semen analysis

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