Antibiotics Can Reduce Sperm Viability Across Generations


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It seems that researchers at the University of Nevada have discovered that the antibiotic tetracycline has caused pseudoscorpions (i.e. arachnids that kinda look like scorpions) to suffer from a reduced sperm viability, and that this effect is passed on to the next generation!

The pseudoscorpions treated with the antibiotic had a reduced sperm viability of up to 25 percent, though there was no effect on the body size, sperm number, or female reproduction.

This is the first time we’re seeing antibiotics having an effect that can be passed down to the next generation. It’s scary to think that drugs our parents may have been taking, thinking they were safe, could have an effect on us when they are later discovered to have detrimental effects. Or the drugs we’re taking could affect our children for that matter…

The tetracycline that was used is a broad-spectrum antibiotic that is used in animal production, antimicrobial therapy, and for curing arthropods infected with bacterial endosymbionts. According to the article, six decades of use of this antibiotic have caused widespread bacterial resistance but it is still used today as an additive in animal feed and as an accessible antimicrobial therapy in developing countries.

While we, ourselves, may not be typically affected by this particular antibiotic (unless you’re in a developing country), it still poses the question: how safe are the drugs our doctors giving us, really?

[Via Science Daily | Photo Credit: lamentables]





8 Responses to Antibiotics Can Reduce Sperm Viability Across Generations

  1. "It’s scary to think that drugs our parents may have been taking, thinking they were safe, could have an effect on us when they are later discovered to have detrimental effects. Or the drugs we’re taking could affect our children for that matter…" Uh, didn't we already see this with Thalidomide? Which is back on the market for use btw…

    • Thalidomide has some very good effects on Hansen diesease, the effects on children were caused because the lack of studies of teratogenicity, thats why now its absolutely contraindicated in woman that are, or may be, pregnant.
      The problem is not to use of drugs, the problem is to use them irrationally and without clear guidelines.

    • You're comparing a drug that caused birth defects in humans with a drug that causes a low sperm count in arachnids. These are not even close to the same thing.

      I do not believe we've been alerted to a drop in sperm count in US (or other developed countries) males which would indicate that this is a problem. It's sounds like someone is sounding the alarm a little prematurely. It happens.

  2. I would like to see more information on this. I take a form of tetracycline for acne and as a female I want to know what I'm doing to my future kids.

    • I know, right? I'm sort of squinting to try and see the correlation. Maybe if we were looking at a mammal.