Maternal Beef Consumption And Effect On Spermatogenesis In Male Child
Maternal diet and lifestyle is believed to influence the health and wellness in the offspring. Various research and clinical studies indicates that high consumption of certain drugs or exposure to environmental toxins during pregnancy can interfere with the fetal growth and well-being (1). In some cases, the deleterious effects may last for a long period of time.
But what about nutrients and macromolecules in the diet? Is it true that excessive consumption of some otherwise healthy foods during pregnancy can lead to negative consequences?
Is Maternal Beef Consumption Negatively Associated With The Sexual Development In Male Babies?
Beef is considered a great source of acquitting essential proteins but prior research also suggests that excessive beef consumption is hazardous for health for a variety of reasons; such as (2):
- Beef is rich in bad quality cholesterol which can lead to heart diseases and vascular disorders.
- The risk of cross-reactivity between human hormones and chemicals present in the beef flesh is very high (especially if beef is obtained from non-organic sources). In the United States and several other countries across the world, cows are injected with artificial hormones and a variety of drugs to facilitate growth and disease-free survival. The breakdown products of these chemicals and drugs can accumulate over time in the flesh and fat tissue of cows and can lead to autoimmune and inflammatory disorders in humans upon consumption.
- According to another study, beef flesh is high in omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids which is associated with a high risk of developing brain abnormalities in the adults.
Semen Quality Of Males And Maternal Beef Consumption During Pregnancy
According to a new study reported in the Human Reproduction journal (3), investigators obtained the semen samples from 387 adult males and compared the findings in relation to the self-reported maternal beef consumption during pregnancy. The data was obtained from 5 US cities during a period of 1999 and 2005 and regression analysis was performed to analyze results.
The investigators identified that:
- High maternal consumption of beef during pregnancy is negatively associated with the quality of semen in males. It was identified that frequency of maternal beef consumption of 7 times or more per week during pregnancy was associated with a 24.3% reduction in the sperm count of male offspring. It was also observed that sperm concentration in the male offspring of women who consumed less beef was three-times higher than high beef-eaters.
- The risk of sub-fertility is higher in males born to high beef-consuming mothers.
- The deleterious effects are mainly mediated by the effects of xenobiotics on the testicular development.
What May Cause Sub-Fertility In Males Who Are Born To Mothers With High Beef Consumption?
Investigators identified that various factors may play a role. For example:
- Xenobiotics and steroids are frequently administered to the livestock in the US for growth stimulation.
- Beef is high in fat content and it is not a secret that adipose tissues tend to store hormonal degradation products, chemicals, pesticides and other environmental chemicals (4), which can gain access to the maternal body as well as fetal tissues after beef consumption.
- Investigators also identified several similarities in the lifestyle of women who consumed beef in high frequency; such as increased prevalence of smoking and alcohol as well as similarities in the parity.
Besides beef consumption, several other factors also play a huge role in the pathogenesis of spermatogenesis and poor semen quality. For example, a previous study provided statistical evidence that men living in Missouri region are more prone to develop fertility issues due to high use of pesticides and herbicides in the agricultural activities (4).
1. Bergkvist, C., Öberg, M., Appelgren, M., Becker, W., Aune, M., Ankarberg, E. H., … & Håkansson, H. (2008). Exposure to dioxin-like pollutants via different food commodities in Swedish children and young adults. Food and chemical toxicology, 46(11), 3360-3367.
2. Siri-Tarino, P. W., Chiu, S., Bergeron, N., & Krauss, R. M. (2015). Saturated fats versus polyunsaturated fats versus carbohydrates for cardiovascular disease prevention and treatment. Annual review of nutrition, 35, 517.
3. Swan, S. H., Liu, F., Overstreet, J. W., Brazil, C., & Skakkebaek, N. E. (2007). Semen quality of fertile US males in relation to their mothers’ beef consumption during pregnancy. Human Reproduction, 22(6), 1497-1502.
4. Swan, S. H. (2006). Semen quality in fertile US men in relation to geographical area and pesticide exposure. International journal of andrology, 29(1), 62-68.
5. Afeiche, M. C., Williams, P. L., Gaskins, A. J., Mendiola, J., Jørgensen, N., Swan, S. H., & Chavarro, J. E. (2014). Meat intake and reproductive parameters among young men. Epidemiology (Cambridge, Mass.), 25(3), 323.