Social and Environmental Factors Affecting Fertility

    Author Name(s)

    Toni-Rose Mamaril-Miller
    Hannah Dalton
    Heather Williams-Baumgart

    Faculty Advisor(s)

    Dr. Lydia Dixon

    Abstract

    For many, having a child is central to the American Dream alongside finding a partner, and owning a home, yet approximately 1 in 8 couples in the United States are affected by infertility. That is about 6.7 million people each year who struggle to conceive. Fundamental human rights principles recognize a right to health that includes reproductive freedom. In order to bring about a vision of reproductive justice and thus to fulfill fundamental human rights, the identification of elements of reproductive oppression must first be clarified, followed by the development of strategies to eliminate the conditions that enable this oppression. Our research examines the relationship between environmental factors (notably endocrine disrupting chemicals like pesticides) and social inequalities (such as income, access to healthcare, education levels, social status, type of insurance, and cultural ideologies) along with their impact on female and male reproduction, especially pertaining to agricultural populations within Ventura County. Agricultural workers are the keystone in the American food system, yet they are arguably the most exploited populations in this country. In conclusion, our collective research indicated Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals (EDCs) and social inequalities were linked to serious health concerns for this underserved population. Prolonged chemical exposures can lead to infertility and spontaneous abortions, and are compounded by social inequities such as lack of enforced occupational safety in agriculture and barriers to healthcare resource access. Recent data has utilized oral mucosal samples (via Mononuclei Test) to help support these findings on a cellular level, suggesting evidence of genotoxic damage [genetic mutations] that can render this population vulnerable and in great need of fertility assistance. Considering this pressing concern, research on reproductive issues is of great importance. The consideration of long term health changes for Ventura County must address the root causes of fertility problems: the many environmental and social inequities that control and regulate farmworkers and their communities.

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