Organic food consumption during pregnancy and male urogenital anomalies at birth

A population-based prospective pregnancy cohort study conducted by the Norwegian Institute of Public Health examined associations between organic food consumption during pregnancy and prevalence of genital birth defects hypospadias (in which the urethra opens inferior to its normal position) and cryptorchidism (the absence of one or both testicles from the scrotum) in male neonates.

According to the results obtained, women who reported “sometimes, often or mostly” eating organically produced food during pregnancy were less likely to give a birth to a boy with hypospadias than women who reported never or seldom consuming organic foods. However, no evidence of an association between organic food consumption and cryptorchidism was find. The authors sustained that replication in other study populations is required since these findings were based on small numbers of cases.

Existing evidence suggests that maternal diet and environmental contaminants may affect the risk of birth defects via placental or hormonal disturbances. Pesticides, as endocrine-active substances with estrogenic or anti-androgenic activity, could hypothetically lead to these developmental anomalies that are related to androgen activity which is important especially when organogenesis takes place. Exposure to pesticides is mainly via residues in conventionally produced food. Furthermore, organic food consumption has been associated with higher levels of beneficial fatty acids and fat soluble antioxidants as well as with lower urinary concentrations of pesticide metabolites.

More information: