It’s true Finnish men are more fertile than Britons, and it could all be down to mother.

Researchers from St Mary’s Medical School in London have proved that the suspected decline in sperm quality is genuine, and is a problem shared by most countries in northwest Europe, including Britain.

The one exception seems to be Finland where fertility is “statistically significantly greater”, say the researchers, when measured by “time to pregnancy”, which measures the time it takes for a woman to get pregnant.

The reason why Finland should be the exception is not so easy to pinpoint. Researchers point out that they were studying data from Finland which was six years older than that from Britain, but felt this would have only a marginal effect.

One significant difference between Finland and the rest is the far lower smoking rates among Finnish women until the 1980s. Male fetuses could be affected by maternal smoking in the same way that it affects female fertility.

!AThe Lancet, June 1, 1996.

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