COVID Kids: Stress Can Impact Sperm and Future Offspring
Prolonged fear and anxiety brought on by major stressors such as the COVID-19 pandemic can not only take a toll on a person’s mental health, but may also have a lasting impact on a man’s sperm composition that could affect future offspring, reports a new study in the journal Nature Communications. University of Maryland School of Medicine researchers found that the effects of paternal stress can be transferred to offspring through changes in the extracellular vesicles; small, membrane-bound particles that transport proteins, lipids and nucleic acids between cells and interact with maturing sperm. They are produced in large amounts in the reproductive tract and play an integral role in sperm maturation. “Connecting with our friends and loved ones by high-tech means or through simple phone calls can help us maintain ties during stressful days ahead,” advises Joshua Gordon, M.D., Ph.D., director of the National Institute of Mental Health.