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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I was doing some online "research" about soy consumption for a friend of mine who is afraid to give tofu to her one-year-old. I came across an article that made my gut sink - that linked hypospadias (a penile birth defect) to a vegetarian diet during the mother's pregnancy, which some people are attributing to soy consumption. I researched further and came across this Wikipedia article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hypospadias (WARNING: there is a photo of a full-grown erect penis on this page!)

Here's the portion of the article that links hypospadias to vegetarian diet:

Quote:
A recent questionnaire study of mothers who bore infants with hypospadias reported fivefold higher risk association with vegetarian diet (with plant phytoestrogens the hypothetical link) during pregnancy, and weaker associations with iron supplementation or influenza during early pregnancy [1] the associations are as yet uncorroborated by additional surveys or other methods.
The reason this is now eating away at me is that I was vegetarian during my last pregnancy and my youngest son HAS hypospadias!
It's not a serious case, it's the mildest kind that doesn't impare function in anyway, it just looks a little different. My doctor never mentioned that a vegetarian diet, or eating soy foods might in any way have affected this, but now I'm wondering! My older son doesn't have it, but I only went veg during my last trimester of pregnancy with him.

Like the article says, this isn't entirely corroborated, but I'm still feeling SO guilty! I hate to think that my dietary choices actually CAUSED a disorder in my child! I've tried to be so consciencious to give my kids the very best start nutritionally! I would have never dreamed that my healthy veg diet could actually do some harm!!


Anyway, just thought I'd put this out there, for any pregnant moms. Might be worth asking your doctors about.
 

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there is no reason to feel guilty about ignorance.

and, there's no conclusive saying that this is the case. it does happen to children whose moms are omnivorous as well. ok?

and your son isn't harmed, really, is he? beautiful, wonderful kid who will grow to be a beautiful, wonderful man. no problems.
 

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I think we had a thread on this long ago. I haven't searched yet.

ETA- this is the only article on pub med for key words for that defect and vegetarian. I didn't find anything using soy, did not try phytoestrogen

http://www.blackwell-synergy.com/doi...x.2000.00436.x

A maternal vegetarian diet in pregnancy is associated with hypospadias

* K. North,

* J. Golding and

* THE ALSPAC STUDY TEAM

*

Unit of Paediatric and Perinatal Epidemiology, Division of Child Health, University of Bristol, Bristol, UK

Correspondence: Professor Jean Golding, Unit of Paediatric & Perinatal Epidemiology, University of Bristol, 24 Tyndall Avenue, Bristol BS8 1TQ, UK.

Accepted for publication 28 September 1999

Abstract

Objective To investigate the possible role of the maternal diet, particularly vegetarianism and consumption of phytoestrogens, in the origin of hypospadias, which is reported to be increasing in prevalence.

Subjects and methods Detailed information was obtained prospectively from mothers, including previous ob-stetric history, lifestyle and dietary practices, using structured self-completed questionnaires during pregnancy. Previously recognized associations with en-vironmental and parental factors were examined, focusing particularly on the hypothesized hormonal link. Multivariate logistic regression was used to identify independent associations.

Results Of 7928 boys born to mothers taking part in the Avon Longitudinal Study of Pregnancy and Childhood, 51 hypospadias cases were identified. There were no significant differences in the proportion of hypospadias cases among mothers who smoked, consumed alcohol or for any aspect of their previous reproductive history (including the number of previous pregnancies, number of miscarriages, use of the contraceptive pill, time to conception and age at menarche). Significant differences were detected for some aspects of the maternal diet, i.e. vegetarianism and iron supplementation in the first half of pregnancy. Mothers who were vegetarian in pregnancy had an adjusted odds ratio (OR) of 4.99 (95% confidence interval, CI, 2.1011.88) of giving birth to a boy with hypospadias, compared with omnivores who did not supplement their diet with iron. Omnivores who supplemented their diet with iron had an adjusted OR of 2.07 (95% CI, 1.004.32). The only other statistically significant association for hypospadias was with influenza in the first 3 months of pregnancy (adjusted OR 3.19, 95% CI 1.506.78).

Conclusion As vegetarians have a greater exposure to phytoestrogens than do omnivores, these results support the possibility that phytoestrogens have a deleterious effect on the developing male reproductive system.
 

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This is why I greatly reduced soy intake during pregancy (and still do, even though I know I'm having a girl... just in case!) Colorful, you didn't do anything intentionally to hurt your baby, and it could have happened even if you WEREN'T vegetarian!! Don't feel guilty at all!!!! Trust me, you are doing a much better job than moms who ate nothing but big macs and diet coke during their pregnancies!!!
 

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Here's my researcher spin on this...

1. It's one study, which in the world of research, means absolutely nothing.

2. It's a correlational study. CORRELATION does not mean CAUSATION! That's the researcher mantra.

I would do some research to see if this is a problem in asia where soy is a large part of the diet for everyone.
 

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.. and because I'm working and have access to all sorts of databases (unfortuantely I can't link you full text because I have student access to databases) here are a few other studies that found other things.

Quote:
Authors: Pierik FH; Burdorf A; Deddens JA; Juttmann RE; Weber RF

Source: Environmental Health Perspectives [Environ Health Perspect] 2004 Nov; Vol. 112 (15), pp. 1570-6.

Title: Maternal and paternal risk factors for cryptorchidism and hypospadias: a case-control study in newborn boys.

From abstract: (emphasis mine) Smoking of the father was associated with hypospadias (OR = 3.8; 95% CI, 1.8-8.2). Maternal occupational, dietary, and lifestyle exposures were not associated with either abnormality.
Another... and from China!

Quote:
Authors: Wang JP; Wang BY

Source: Zhonghua Liu Xing Bing Xue Za Zhi = Zhonghua Liuxingbingxue Zazhi [Zhonghua Liu Xing Bing Xue Za Zhi] 2004 Mar; Vol. 25 (3), pp. 261-4.

Title: [A case-control study on risk factors of hypospadias]

From abstract: CONCLUSIONS: The risk factors of hypospadias seemed to include maternal history of spontaneous abortion, threatened abortion in the first or second trimester, maternal common cold accompanied fever in the first trimester, maternal drug exposure during the second trimester, paternal occupational exposure to pesticides, neonatal low birth weight. However, maternal diet supplemented with protein probably acted as the protective factor for neonatal hypospadias in the first trimester.
Another theory...

Quote:
Authors: Porter MP; Faizan MK; Grady RW; Mueller BA

Source: Pediatrics [Pediatrics] 2005 Apr; Vol. 115 (4), pp. e495-9. Date of Electronic Publication: 2005 Mar 01.

From abstract: CONCLUSION: Older maternal age, white race, and preexisting diabetes were associated with increased risk of hypospadias among male offspring. The prevalence of hypospadias in Washington State did not increase significantly between 1987 and 2002.
The article that Thalia posted is the only one that I came across that even mentions vegetarianism as well, and if you'll note, that study isn't comparing a straight up vegetarian diet with an omnivore one, it's saying a vegetarian diet WITH iron supplementation (and doesn't every doctor prescribe prenatals with iron??) vs an omni diet WITHOUT iron supplementation.
 

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This is from a press release from the researchers behind the study:

Quote:
Does a vegetarian diet have health implications for baby boys?

11/07/2002

[...]

When asked this week if she felt a vegetarian diet during pregnancy was detrimental to the developing fetus, Professor Golding replied, I would suggest strongly that no action is taken until our findings have been confirmed in other studies. Meanwhile I believe that it is important that mothers ensure that there is variety in their diet whether they are vegetarian or not.

[...]

We feel that the articles described above are both misleading and alarmist. We wish to emphasise that Children of the 90s investigated only one malformation hypospadias, as opposed to deformities or serious defects as stated by the Sunday Express, we find these terms offensive. While obviously distressing for the families involved, hypospadias rarely has any deleterious long-term effects and is almost always corrected with surgery.

We wish to point out that Professor Golding has been quoted out of context in both articles, the indications our study have shown are not potentially disastrous to the human race. We were careful to stress throughout the initial media interest that we did not advocate that any pregnant woman change their chosen lifestyle if they were vegetarian, merely that being vegetarian may be a risk factor for this malformation. The condition is not exclusive to the children of vegetarian mothers, it also occurs in meat eaters. We also emphasised that we could not be sure exactly what facet of the diet could be held responsible. Consumption of soya has increased over recent years, in the wake of BSE and other meat-related health scares.

There are several plausible explanations as to the association we found; including possible exposure to pesticides and phytoestrogens (soya is the richest source in our food chain), both of which are known to act as hormone mimickers, however, we were not able to determine any direct causal factors from our research, as such we found the recent newspaper articles to be unnecessarily sensationalist and we again advise caution in interpreting these results. It is very important that further research is carried out to confirm or refute our findings. Further studies are currently underway on different populations directly examining the hypothesis that we have generated and we hope that many questions raised by our research may be answered. We will then be in a much better position to completely allay peoples fears or provide appropriate recommendations as appropriate.

We would also like to point out that the study referred to in the Express article regarding infant feeding with soya milk possible having a damaging effect on sexual development was actually an animal study and as such we feel it inappropriate to be discussed alongside our own research.
See link for the complete press release:

http://www.alspac.bris.ac.uk/press/hypospadia.shtml

So, more studies were underway. But in the 5 years since the above press release, has anyone heard of new studies linking vegetarianism or soya to this birth defect?
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
wow...thanks everyone for digging up more research for me! And thank you Zoebird, veggielove, and others for your kind words. I guess it is pointless to feel guilty over something I cannot change.

I wonder why the possible link to soy consumption and hypospadias hasn't been studied further? I know that my doctor knew that I was vegetarian during my pregnancy and she never once advised me to limit my soy consumption. Interestingly enough, though, during my first trimester when I was morning sick, I couldn't stand the thought of soymilk, tofu, or soyburgers. Maybe my body was trying to tell me something?

Another thing: My doctor tested me to be borderline anemic during my pregnancy and she prescribed iron supplements. I took them, not as often as she recommended, but maybe a few times a week. I wonder if that had anything to do with it? I am always wary of supplements...

So, I checked my kitchen and realized we have SO many soy products! Soy milk, tofu, soy yogurts, soynut butter, soy margarine (Earth Balance), soy creamer, soy sauce, soy ice cream, soy veggieburgers. Perhaps we ARE overdoing the soy! Something to think about...
 

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colorful, I'm not sure there hasn't been any follow-up studies investigating the possible link between soya consumption and hypospadias - there just hasn't been any that successfully established that there was a link. (Because if they had found such a link, I'm sure we would have heard of it ...)

(By the way, and not sure if this is of interest, but here's another article I found while searching for more info on this. It specifically mentions the study we're talking about in this thread, as well as what are "reasonable" intakes of soya:

http://www.vegetarianbaby.com/articl...sgoingon.shtml)
 

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Color, I actually specifically asked my doctor about this study and she told me she thought it was non-conclusive, and to enjoy as much soy as I normally would want, that she had found it to be very beneficial to her patients. I am still a little wary but to be honest I am eating a little more soy now because of it. ;-) Sometimes you really want the soynut butter!! ;-)

Your body wasn't trying to tell you anything, in my opinion - if you need to "blame" something, the iron supplements are just as likely to cause a problem, and you needn't feel guilty for taking them since your doctor prescribed them. I can imagine your guilt (I feel bad for having caught a cold when I was 6 weeks pregnant, for eating some mashed potatoes I didn't realize had preservatives in them that are bad, etc...) Caring for a little baby inside you for 9 months is a huge amount of time, and we panic and analyze every little thing we do to try to do it "perfectly". There is no perfect, and a lot of these things we just can't control. All you can do is be the best mommy you can be, and love your child with all your might!! If you are doing those two things, you are a perfect mom as far as I'm concerned. :)
 

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Colorful- I don't know the seriousness of your sons hypospadias, but it sounds fairly common. If it isn't going to cause health problems, maybe you needn't worry about it at all. I went to that page and saw the picture and couldn't even tell what was different about it. So if you are worried about future friends or partners, I don't think any will even notice, and hopefully by the time a partner sees it, it will be someone he knows well enough that he can feel comfortable sharing a small and insignificant difference with them.

I did a little reading about this difference when I was doing a paper on intersexed surgeries to correct ambiguous genitalia. While hypospadias is not ambiguous, it is one of the conditions many doctors will pressure parents to have unnecessary surgery for. I don't know your son's severity or course of action (that's your business), but there are a lot of people out there with this, left untreated who are fine, and there is nothing to feel guilty about. And if you act like it's no big deal, hopefully that message will be passed on to your son and he won't think it is either.

It seems like parents and mom especially are under so much stress to feel guilty about something, no matter how great their kids are, as I'm sure your son is!

ETA- I thin we all have some sort of genetic or otherwise "defect". Defect is just a matter of opinion. I have a tilted uterus, one ear canal is a little off, myopia, allergies, crooked teeth, flat feet, and many other imperfections. It's no biggie.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
LOL - thanks Berrykat, I liked that link!

Thalia - my son's hypospadias is pretty minor. At every doctor's visit, my doctor always checks it and says, "oh, yeah, that looks just fine. I doubt he'll ever need surgery for it" - so I don't think it's a big deal. He's not circumcised (we're not into the unnecessary surgery) but his foreskin doesn't retract in the same way his big brother's did at his age (1 1/2) and his penis looks a little smaller overall. It's not anything that I'm worried about, I just hope it isn't something that causes him grief when he gets older.

Thanks everyone for your comments! I knew this would be the right place to talk about this. I also post on a baby forum but I didn't want to take this topic there because I know how many people would be like - oh my gosh! She is refusing to feed her children meat! and milk! Let's notify the authorities!
 

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Soy consumption and a vegetarian diet are completely different things.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by colorful View Post

He's not circumcised (we're not into the unnecessary surgery) but his foreskin doesn't retract in the same way his big brother's did at his age (1 1/2) and his penis looks a little smaller overall.
They retracted your eldest son's foreskin at 1 1/2? Odd, foreskin should be left to retract on its own.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Quote:
Originally Posted by napalmtheory View Post

They retracted your eldest son's foreskin at 1 1/2? Odd, foreskin should be left to retract on its own.
His foreskin was never forcibly retracted. Our doctor advised us to push it back only as far as it would naturally go during his bath starting at about age 1. Now that he's 3 1/2 he does this himself. It still doesn't go all the way back, he just pushes it as far as it goes. It is mainly just to get him in the habit of good hygeine. My youngest's foreskin doesn't pull back naturally at ALL - and of course we are not forcing it. I've just noticed the difference. Thanks for your concern though.
 

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The picture didn't look like anything that would bother me if it were mine/my partners (the latter is much more likely, lol). I wouldn't stress about it. I think everyone who does something "different" with their children is afraid they'll mess them up in some way, but you gotta remember "normal" or "average" child rearing isn't perfect by any means.

Even if someone could say conclusively that this is your fault (and based on the other studies and links I don't think it is, one study is nothing), it's not so bad. You guys sound like wonderful parents who really listen to your children and try to teach them the right things and help them grow up to be wonderful healthy people, I would focus more on what a good job you're doing instead of what you might have done to create a small imperfection on your son's penis.

You're taking time to look up information about how diet impacts your son, most people just feed their kids whatever and hope it goes ok.
 

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First of all, don't base any of your information on Wikipedia. At the bottom, you can change information in the article, anyone can do it. So if this story is true, look for your research somewhere else.
 

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Another problem is that the term 'vegetarian' encompasses such a wide variety of eating habits as to be practically meaningless. Here are some varieties:

+ 'junk food' vegetarian

+ someone who consumes massive quantities of dairy products

+ someone who doesn't consider fish to be 'meat'

+ someone who consumes a whole-foods, low-on-the-food-chain vegan diet

Each of these folks is subjecting their bodies to a different nutritional 'experience'. What matters?
 
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