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Sickle Cell Treatments can Destroy Germ Cells in Boys, Affecting Fertility in Adulthood, Study Suggests

Some treatments for sickle cell disease or cancer can destroy germ cells that later develop into sperm, putting young boys at risk of reduced fertility in adulthood, a study suggests.

These results could lead to a change in treatment guidelines, giving healthcare providers who are treating prepubescent boys the opportunity to account for these risks before therapy begins and take action to possibly restore these patients’ fertility in the future.

The study, “Spermatogonial quantity in human prepubertal testicular tissue collected for fertility preservation prior to potentially sterilizing therapy,” was recently published in the journal Human Reproduction.

Although it had been previously established that boys who undergo chemotherapy or radiotherapy are potentially at risk of reduced fertility in adulthood, this study is the first to describe the impact of these treatments on future sperm quantity.