Climate change can affect people and the environment in many ways. It now seems that climate affects birth rates as well. A new study reports that global warming leads to a declining number of births.
More specifically, according to research by the National Bureau of Economic Research in Massachusetts, high temperatures could decrease sexual desire and it is possible that people have fewer sexual relations during hot days. Other than that it is also likely that high temperatures affect reproductive health, impacting birth rates.
Researchers found that birth rates drop dramatically after a particularly hot day, about 9 months later. Actually, birth rates decreased by 0.7% compared to the outcome of a cold day.
These findings suggest that warm weather might be associated with decreased fertility or reduced libido due to hormonal imbalances, or more likely to both of these combined. Decreased fertility for men might refer to poor quality sperm and negatively affected testosterone while for women to abnormal ovulation, menstruation and failed implantation of fertilized eggs.
Researchers noted that days on which temperature exceeds 27 °C result in a significant decrease of births eight to ten months later. These rates seem to be partially restored after a couple of months by 32%. This observation indicates that people adapt to changes caused by high temperatures, altering the month of conception.
Study findings suggest that this trend could lead to 100,000 fewer babies born per year in the US by the end of this century. Air conditioning could possibly allay fears of scientists about the impact of high temperatures to fertility and birth rates. Some researchers, however, argue that the potent greenhouse gases used in air conditioning might as well promote global warming.
Global warming will eventually lead to even more births during summer months according to scientists, when the risk of exposure to hazardous high temperatures is increased. This phenomenon is expected to affect developing countries at a greater level due to extreme temperatures and lack of air conditioning.