Vegetarian and soy-based diets are becoming more common in today's society. However, consuming soy during pregnancy can create subtle, yet long-term effects for an unborn child. Soy has been shown to hinder development in many ways. Therefore, a diet containing soy products should be avoided by pregnant women.
Soy contains phytoestrogens, which are weak estrogen analogs. Soy has been proven to produce various mild hormonal actions in the body, including the production of estrogenic effects. During pregnancy, when the baby's body is forming and is most susceptible to harm, these mild hormonal effects, which may not affect adults, are heightened. These hormones can adversely affect the way the baby's brain, reproductive organs and cells, and immune system develops. Beware that these phytoestrogens are also found in legumes.
Depressed Thyroid Function
Soy products contain isoflavones. Recent studies have suggested that the isoflavones in soy products can depress thyroid function. This depression can then ultimately lead to the formation of goiters.
Problems with Girl and Boy Babies
Studies have linked the consumption of soy products by a pregnant mother with early puberty in the female child.
A research study has suggested that eating soy while pregnant can cause significant problems in male babies. Specifically, it could create abnormal reproductive organs and sexual dysfunction in the later years of the child. Pregnancy is a critical time for the formation of the male reproductive system and sexual development. The exact cause for soy creating these problems is still unknown and further research is being conducted.
Breast Milk Issues
Drinking soy during pregnancy has been linked to the reduction and/or failure to produce breast milk after labor. Soy milk should not be used as a replacement for breast milk or baby formula, as it is even more harmful when consumed by babies.
Phytoestrogens, such as those found in soy, have been shown to increase the risk of breast cancer in women who are pregnant, and also in women who are not pregnant. Consuming large amounts of soy products is not recommended during or after pregnancy.
Protein Absorption Issues
Some women claim to have consumed large amounts of soy during pregnancy, and their child suffered no adverse effects. Also, some doctors do not agree with the claims that soy produces a large enough effect to damage the formation of the child's body. So, if you do decide to consume soy while you are pregnant, it is best to purchase non-GMO organic soy products and to consume it in moderation.