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Prenatal intake of non-organic dairy products linked to hypospadias in offspring

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By Jimmy Downs

Sunday Oct 7, 2012 (foodconsumer.org) -- A new study in Journal of Urology suggests that not eating non-organic dairy products like butter and cheese during pregnancy may help reduce the risk of hypospadias - a birth defect in boys which affects the penis.

J.S. Christensen at Department of Growth and Reproduction, Rigshospitalet in Copenhagen, Denmark and colleagues conducted the case-control study and found women who had rarely chose organic foods and used non-organic butter and cheese during pregnancy were twice as likely as those who ate organic food to have a boy with hypospadias.

For the study, researchers surveyed mothers of 305 boys with hypispadias and mothers of 306 healthy boys for their demographic and dietary information including intake and organic choice of selected food items including milk, diary products, egg, fruit, vegetables and meat.

After adjustment for maternal age, body mass index and alcohol consumption, the researchers found overall, organic choice of food items during pregnancy was not correlated with hypospadias in the offspring.

However, frequent current consumption of high fat dairy products such as milk and butter while rarely or never eating organic alternatives to these products were 118 percent more likely to have a boy with hypospadias, compared with those eating organic dairy products only.

The researchers concluded "This large case-control study of boys operated for hypospadias found a suggestive association between not choosing the organic alternative and having a high current intake of non-organic butter and cheese and hypospadias in the offspring.

According to the authors, dietary exposure to pesticides or chemical contamination of high fat dairy products may be responsible for the increase in the risk of hypospadias. 

But they said it was also possible that those choosing organic alternatives to non organic dairy products may also follow a general healthy lifestyle which may be as a whole responsible for the lower risk of hypospadias in boys of those women who ate organic dairy products.

High fat dairy products attract more fat soluble pollutants.  Thus eating these foods may lead to high intake of pesticides and other pollutants and potentially pose a risk to the fetus and the mother.

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