Monday, May 22, 2006

Medicine: Vegan diet lowers odds of having twins

Fact or fiction?

Women who eat a vegan diet -- a strict vegetarian diet that excludes all animal
products including milk -- are one-fifth as likely as other women to have twins, a U.S. researcher reported on Saturday.

The reason may be hormones given to cattle to boost their milk and meat production, said Dr. Gary Steinman, an obstetrician specializing in multiple-birth pregnancies at Long Island Jewish Medical Center in New Hyde Park, New York.
This might, at first, seem like a semi-condemnation of veganism, and is of course the way that the general public would take a headline like that, thinking "oh, vegans aren't healthy enough to carry twins, which are obviously cooler than singles!"

Except that's of course a load of crap, since a twin pregnancy is, by definition, a high-risk pregnancy. But regardless, this entirely retrospective, correlational study can't a) prove causation, or b) figure out if it's because milk is healthy, or because we're doping cows up with exogenous hormone, IGF, to make them produce more milk. Now, milk would of course contain some cow IGF anyway, which might be stimulating human ovaries. Or, maybe it's the crap we throw into milk. I'm wondering, for example, if there would be enough of an organic milk drinker subset to hash this out. Doubtful, since widespread availability of organic milk is a little on the new side.

Twins are cute, but do you really want them to moo at you?

Well, sure, that'd be awfully cute. If the kids would really moo at you, that'd be awesome. But they wouldn't really. Not to say that there's even anything particularly dangerous about exogenous IGF transferred from moo cows, but there's obviously a slight creepy factor.

Unfortunately, articles likes this would undermine a slightly more serious matter, that of vegan mothers receiving proper nutrition throughout their pregnancies. Proper nutrition for vegans is not a given, but certainly very possible (and, if done properly, probably beneficial) for a pregnant mom and her baby. But no, we'll have to have fights of Silk vs. milk, because its more fun to bash vegans. That's great public health. Sure.

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