Redbook article on male development:
A good friend pushed into my hands an article from Redbook.  (The New Boys’ Health Scare REDBOOK vol. 216 no.6 June 2011 page 192)  Of course it is not a refereed scientific journal, but one assumes they try to do the job right on the principle of “Trust and verify.” 

The article did indeed address the issue of falling male sperm counts and increasing failure of complete male development.  Understandably the article intended to make the readers happy, and the way you try to make people happy when there is a scare is to give them something to try.  In this case the possible culprit was chemicals in common plastics.  The theory was that these chemicals can disrupt the hormonal balance of an infant and there were suggestions on how to avoid it.

On the face of it, the notion does not seem plausible.  One of the way males fail to develop normally is a condition called, “Hypospadias.”  Check the article for details, but the fact is that the condition is present at birth.  So in order to affect the fetus these trace chemicals would have to have a significant impact on the mother’s hormonal balance.  Fat chance, as they say.  The pregnant woman is absolutely awash in hormones.  I suppose somebody with a sentimental turn of mind might notice that the fetus is exposed to very high levels of female hormones normally and the male infant might carry some sort of memory of what it was like.  No controlled experiment on that one comes to mind, so I do not propose it seriously.  But the male fetus is certainly exposed to levels that would dwarf the traces the mother might pick up from the environment.  Still, speculation is no substitute for data and one can only encourage those who make earnest efforts to find causes.

Of course one probable cause is the elephant in the living room, in this case the fact that severe levels of infertility can be documented to result from inadequate consanguinity in the parents and grandparents. 

So I have made bold to write two of the experts the article quotes.  My intension was two-fold.  First I wanted to put them on the alert that there was a highly likely cause already on the books, and sent them the relevant articles.  That might spare them spending a lot of time down dead alleys.  Secondly I asked them to verify what they had said to the journalist.  In spite of the importance of the issue, in spite of my years of study of it and in spite of the ease with which I can discover evidence for the cause, it is rather hard to get good articles that point the problem out in the scientific literature as clearly is it was laid out in Redbook.  A personal confirmation is not quite so quotable as an article, but it would at least be one step closer to the facts.

I’ll let you know if I get a response.

(Dr. Howard Snyder was kind enough to respond but had nothing further to offer at this time.) 

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