As reported by the BBC, a University of Rochester study found recently that men whose mothers ate lots of beef during their pregnancies had lower sperm counts than the sons of women who ate little or no beef while pregnant:
Among sons of mothers who ate a lot of beef, 17.7 percent had a sperm concentration below the World Health Organization sub-fertility threshold of 20 million sperm per millilitre of seminal fluid. The figure for the sons of lower beef consumers was 5.7 percent.
Lead researcher Professor Shanna Swan said the findings suggested that exposure to growth promoters contained in the beef eaten by the boys’ mothers was to blame.
The researchers admit that they cannot pinpoint what chemical specifically caused the sperm damage. Europe banned growth promoters in beef in 1988 (they’re so civilized over there), so a study of sperm levels in sons born after 1988 to beef-eating mothers could more conclusively pin this on growth promoters.
In the meantime, it’s yet another reason to choose grass-fed, hormone-free beef. Or, hey, just skip the beef entirely (although when I was pregnant, after 14 years of vegetarianism, I had some serious beef cravings. Grass-fed beef cravings, of course.)