You’ve spent more than 20 years examining the effects of hormone disrupting chemicals on reproductive health. Are you now sounding the alarm?
I am directly speaking to this hidden problem people don’t like to talk about, which is their sub-fertility or reproductive problems, and how that is tied to the environment. People are recognising we have a reproductive health crisis, but they say it’s because of delayed childbearing, choice or lifestyle – it can’t be chemical. I want people to recognise it can. I am not saying other factors aren’t involved. But I am saying chemicals play a major causal role. It is difficult to use that word, “cause”, but it’s a body of evidence. We have mechanisms, animal studies, and multiple human studies.
Female fertility declines rapidly after about 35. Isn’t that why so many people are turning to IVF?
It’s not that simple. When a colleague and I looked at the change in impaired fecundity [the ability to have children] we were surprised to see younger women had experienced a bigger increase than older age groups. This suggests that something besides ageing and delayed childbearing is affecting fertility.
Moreover, there’s compelling evidence that the risk of miscarriage has been rising among women of all ages.