REPRODUCTIVE PHYSIOLOGY AND DISEASE
Do paternal semen parameters influence the birth weight or BMI
of the offspring? A study from the Utah Population Database
Ross E. Anderson
Heidi A. Hanson
Angela P. Presson
Kenneth I. Aston
Douglas T. Carrell
Ken R. Smith
James M. Hotaling
Received: 2 December 2017 /Accepted: 5 March 2018 /Published online: 17 March 2018
Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018
Purpose To study the role of individual semen parameters on the offspring birth weight and body mass index (BMI) from a
population of men evaluated in an assisted reproduction technology (ART) clinic compared to fertile controls.
Methods We performed a retrospective study using a cohort with fertile, age-matched controls of men evaluated with semen
analysis at the University of Utah Andrology Clinic from 1996 to 2011 and Intermountain Healthcare from 2002 to 2011. We use
the offspring from both our sub-fertile cohort and controls using the Utah Population Database. The two main outcomes of
interest were offspring birth weight and adolescent BMI.
Results The offspring of men with impaired sperm parameters had significantly lower birth weight compared to fertile control
offspring. Low-concentration offspring weighed 158 g less (95% CI − 278~− 38; p = 0.01), low total count weighed 172 g less
(95% CI − 294~− 51; p = 0.005), and low total motility weighed 155 g less (95% CI − 241~− 69; p <0.001)comparedtothoseof
the controls. When we controlled for the use of ART within the sub-fertile group, we found that there was a significant trend of
increasing birth weight across levels of total motile count and total sperm count compared to the azoospermic group. We did not
find any consistent significant differences between the subject and control adolescence BMI based on semen parameters.
Conclusions Despite limitations within our population-based dataset, we found that poor quality semen analysis parameters
pointed towards an association with low birth weight in the offspring of sub-fertile men compared to the offspring of normal
fertile controls. However, in contrast to studies of ART effects on offspring, we did not find evidence of long-term associations
between semen quality and offspring BMI.
Keywords Male infertility
The prevalence of adult obesity in 2014 internationally was an
estimated 13%, which has doubled since 1980 . Multiple
studies have noted a parallel decline in semen quality and in-
creased use of assisted reproductive technology (ART) during
this same period [2–6]. An estimated 3% of European and 1%
of US babies born are conceived with ART . Evidence for the
association between obesity and male factor infertility is mount-
ing, but little is known about the impact of semen quality on the
birth weight and adolescent body mass index (BMI) (kg/m
their offspring. Therefore, we sought to investigate the role of
individual semen parameters on the offspring birth weight and
BMI from a population of men evaluated in an ART clinic
compared to fertile controls.
Offspring health of children born with the use of ART is
well studied and important for counseling couples considering
ART. Previous studies have demonstrated that singletons con-
ceived with ART have a lower birth weight compared to nat-
urally conceived singletons, and then subsequently these chil-
dren have a catch up period of growth into adolescence that is
associated with increased cardiovascular risk factors [8, 9].
The most common proposed explanations for this are
Electronic supplementary material The online version of this article
(https://doi.org/10.1007/s10815-018-1154-0) contains supplementary
material, which is available to authorized users.
* Ross E. Anderson
Division of Urology, Department of Surgery, University of Utah
School of Medicine, 30 North 1900 East Rm #3B420, Salt Lake
City, UT 84132, USA
Journal of Assisted Reproduction and Genetics (2018) 35:793–799