Hypospadias and Vegetarian Diets

A report from the National Birth Defects Prevention Study (1) was recently released. Counter to two previous studies, it found no association between vegetarian diets in pregnant women and having a boy with hypospadias. This makes six studies examining the association to date with four finding no association.

This is great news, but we are not completely out of the woods yet. There is still reason to make sure that pregnant vegans cover all of their bases.

I have revamped the article Hypospadias and Vegetarian Diets on VeganHealth.org where you can read the fine print.


1. Carmichael SL, Ma C, Feldkamp ML, Munger RG, Olney RS, Botto LD, Shaw GM, Correa A. Nutritional factors and hypospadias risks. Paediatr Perinat Epidemiol. 2012 Jul;26(4):353-60. (link)

2 Responses to “Hypospadias and Vegetarian Diets”

  1. SM Says:

    You may be interested in Dr Gregor’s video on the link between pesticides and hypospadias:

  2. Jack Norris RD Says:


    My original article on hypospadias mentioned that in the 2000 UK study (mentioned by Dr. Greger in the video), no mother who ate only organic vegetables had a boy with hypospadias. However, the number of cases that would have been expected was only one, making the statistical power very weak. I just added this wording back into the article:

    Because there is speculation that pesticides might be a cause of hypospadias, the 2000 UK study also examined the purchase of organic vegetables. The authors state:

    “Unfortunately, only 163 mothers always bought organic vegetables; that none of these mothers had a son with hypospadias is of some interest, but only one case would have been expected. No reduction in risk was evident among those who ‘sometimes’ bought organic vegetables (0.8% had hypospadias, compared with 0.6% who never bought organically grown vegetables).”

    While there might be something to the pesticide/organic vegetable link, there doesn’t seem to be enough statistical power to draw any conclusions.

    I don’t have time to do a literature review on this in the near future, but my sense from the papers I’ve seen over the years has been that vegetarians have lower amounts of pesticide residues in their bodies because more pesticides accumulate in animal products than what you get from plant foods. So I’m hesitant to conclude that the difference between the vegetarians and non-vegetarians was that the vegetarians had higher levels of pesticides (or of any particular pesticide), though it might be the case.

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