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Soy Milk Side Effects in Pregnant Women

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Soy Milk Side Effects in Pregnant Women
If you have concerns about consuming soy milk during your pregnancy, you may do so under a doctor's close supervision of mother and baby's health. Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Stockbyte/Getty Images

Remaining healthy during pregnancy means fastidiously regulating your diet, so that you and your baby are as healthy as can be. A pregnant woman might choose to consume soy milk, or other soy-based products, as a result of taste preferences, lactose intolerance, veganism, or a host of other reasons. While some food products are blacklisted for the mother during pregnancy, soy milk is not one of them. There is not adequate evidence to suggest an avoidance of soy products, nor any negative side effects, rather, soy consumption is sometimes encouraged for a healthy pregnancy.

Usefulness of Soy Milk During Pregnancy

In an article published in "Journal of Perinatal Education" in 2003, researchers note the use of soy products during pregnancy may be encouraged because of health properties particular to soy. Fortified milk and fortified soy milk are both dietary sources of calcium and the essential vitamin D. Soy milk can be a healthful alternative for a woman who has little access to sunlight and may not receive adequate vitamin D. The Cleveland Clinic recommends soy products for vegetarians and vegans who aren't getting protein from meat during pregnancy. Pregnant women may become sickened by the smell or taste of some foods during pregnancy, due to hormone fluctuation. Certain food substitutions, for instance tofu in the place of meat, are generally considered safe.

Soy Use Recommendations and Precautions

It is also recommended that pregnant women receive adequate, and perhaps extra, omega-3 fatty acids during pregnancy. Omega-3 fatty acids are found in great quantities in some kinds of fish, however, pregnant women are limited in how much fish they should eat in order to protect the growing baby from dangerous mercury poisoning. Fish oil capsules may seem repulsive to the pregnant women. Soy products are some of the richest sources of omega-3 fatty acids. Researchers at the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada note that every woman's body is different, making it difficult to create any hard-and-fast rules about diet during pregnancy.

Dangers to Consider

According to a 2010 study in "Frontiers in Neuroendocrinology," mice that were given particular soy-derived isoflavone phytoestrogens showed difficulty conceiving and even permanent infertility. The study's researchers also note that early consumption of soy phytoestrogens, including in utero, may result in lifetime risks, including an increased risk for breast cancer. The study further reports that vegetarian mothers are at increased risk of giving birth to boys with genital malformation, potentially, in part, as a result of phytoestrogens. Research results have been inconclusive, but there is concern that early phytoestrogen consumption results in altered reproductive health. Due to possible effects on pre-menopausal women, researchers recommend that women who want to get pregnant approach soy products with caution and opt out of feeding babies soy formula.

Lack of Sufficient Evidence

Despite promising studies in animal testing, many things have simply not been conclusively tested for their effects on pregnant women, and may be more conjecture than fact, so caution and consultation with a doctor should be first and foremost for any product that rouses concern. Soybeans and soy products are the richest forms of isoflavones. According to the Linus Pauling Institute in 2009, there is no current evidence to suggest that isoflavones, in food or supplement form, in any way affect human fetal development. There has not been enough research in the field to determine whether a diet rich in isoflavones has any effect on the pregnant woman either. The American Cancer Society notes that soy rarely has side effects in people regardless, apart from occasional intestinal disturbances.

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