Disorders of spermatogenesis in Finland

BMJ 1997; 314 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.314.7086.1042 (Published 05 April 1997) Cite this as: BMJ 1997;314:1042

Is this a period effect, and if so, why?

  1. Michael Joffe, Senior lecturer in public healtha
  1. a Imperial College School of Medicine at St Mary's, Norfolk Place, London W2 1PG
  2. b Department of Forensic Medicine, PO Box 40, SF-00014, University of Helsinki, Finland
  3. c School of Medicine, University of Tampere, Finland

    Editor—Jarkko Pajarinen and colleagues report a dramatic deterioration in spermatogenesis between 1981 and 1991 at necropsy in middle aged Finnish men who died suddenly.1 The rate of abnormality seems extremely high, even in 1981. Could this be explained by, for example, the different fixatives used or by varying delay between death and necropsy? Have similar findings been reported in other comparable studies?

    The authors discuss the discrepancy between their findings and the evidence that sperm concentration has not declined in Finland up to as recently as 1994.2 The explanation given, that blocked seminiferous tubules together with normal spermatogenesis can coexist with an impaired sperm count, cannot account for observations that are the other way around. What could be relevant, however, are differences in age distribution and in location within Finland.

    Assuming that these findings can be accepted as real, a key question is whether they are due to a cohort effect …

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