BHUBANESWAR: Even as fluoride contamination is known to cause a host of health problems in humans, its impact on reproductive system and fertility in the population of the affected districts of Odisha is set to become the subject of a comprehensive probe.

The Centre for Human Reproduction (CHR) of IMS and Sum Hospital has been assigned to conduct the study by Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR). It will aim to determine if high fluoride levels in drinking water actually lead to infertility among men and how.

The study would be conducted in areas with high fluoride level in ground water across districts of Cuttack, Khurda and Nayagarh.

“It will be a two-year project and will follow similar research in Gujarat which found that fluoride in water impacted male reproductive system. The Odisha study will seek to confirm if the same is happening to the people in the State in high contamination zones,” Head of CHR and principal investigator Dr Babita Panda said.

The study assumes significance as major part of Odisha, with as many as 27 districts, has reported high fluoride contamination in water. Districts like Nuapada, Balangir, Angul, Nayagarh and Khurda are particularly affected.

Though international research has suggested that fluoride has toxic effect on reproductive hormones, reducing testosterone and causing infertility, it is still to be conclusively established. The CHR, meanwhile, celebrated the first birthday of the baby girl born through in vitro fertilisation (IVF) to a childless couple for over 20 years at its centre here last year. The state-of-the-art infertility centre has so far undertaken IVF procedure on 80 couples and over 1,000 cycles of intrauterine insemination (IUI). IVF or more commonly known as test tube is a process through which an egg is fertilised by sperm outside the body.

“The last IVF cycle taken up in September 2014 had yielded encouraging results. Six out of 18 women showed positive pregnancy,” Dr Panda said, adding that the success percentage was on par with top centres of the country.