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Using a laptop connected to the internet via Wi-Fi can potentially damage sperm, a study suggests. Sperm samples placed beneath a laptop with a wireless internet connection for just four hours were found to have reduced motility and more DNA damage compared with other samples stored under the same conditions but away from the laptop.The study, published in the journal Fertility and Sterility, collected sperm samples from 29 healthy men, aged 26 to 45. Each of the samples were then separated into two pots. One set of samples was placed beneath a laptop connected to the internet via Wi-Fi as it downloaded information, while the other set was stored under identical conditions – including temperature – but away from the computer. The researchers found that exposure to the laptop resulted in a significant decrease in sperm motility and a significant increase in DNA fragmentation. Around 25 per cent of the sperm in samples exposed to the laptop stopped swimming compared with 14 per cent of those kept away from the computer. Similarly around nine per cent of the sperm exposed to the laptop showed DNA damage compared with three per cent in the control samples. The researchers, from Eastern Virginia Medical School and the Nascentis Centre for Reproductive Medicine in Cordoba, Argentina, suggest that the electromagnetic radiation, and not heat, given out by the laptop was the cause. In the study, the laptop connected to Wi-FI emitted 7 – 15 times more electromagnetic radiation than background levels, they said. “Our data suggest that the use of a laptop computer wirelessly connected to the internet and positioned near the male reproductive organs may decrease human sperm quality, they wrote. “At present we do not know whether this effect is induced by all laptop computers connected by Wi-Fi to the internet or what conditions heighten this effect.” The scientists concluded: “The mechanisms mediating the decrease in sperm motility and DNA integrity also need further study.”

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