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Father taking steroids and birth defects

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thatwave Posted: 09-06-2010 3:12 PM


I am 6 weeks pregnant with an unplanned pregnancy. The father was taking over the counter pro-hormone supplements, (legal steroids,) from GNC and other muscle building vitamin stores when we conceived. Apparently, some of his bottles claim that the state of California has found these supplements to cause birth defects. (Of course, my Christmas lights have the same warning lol!) So he's concerned. He has a story of a friend of a friend of a friend that was using supplements when his wife conceived a baby born with only a brain stem. I'm doing research online and can only find such old wives tales but no real statistics or proof. Most sites say there is no risk while some posters, (not professionals mind you,) claim that it will lead to a deformed baby. I was not taking anything other than normal vitamins and a dietitian as well as my obgyn have pronounced me in good health with an excellent diet.

Other than scary warnings based on no facts, is there any legitimate research on this topic? I assume a mother taking legal steroids would obviously be a much bigger problem, but I wonder if the father's supplements can have any serious effects. So far, I can only find that some supplements reduce sperm production which apparently wasn't a problem for us! I'm assuming that any seriously defective sperm wouldn't have reached the egg anyway and that most seriously defective embryos would naturally miscarry.

Facts or studies would be much appreciated!

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1fitmama replied on 09-06-2010 3:42 PM

Okay...I just did a few quick google searches for you (I did not copy/paste the links though)....I wanted to make sure I was right before I started posting on this.  For both Pro-hormones (legal steroid "alternatives) and true, illegal anabolic steroids, the real danger lies when the MOTHER takes the supplement.  These are "masculinizing" agents (androgens) and therefore can have a negative affect on the fetus if the mother is taking them.  For the male, the problem in both instances is killing off his "swimmers".  What happens is, the hormones in the steroids takes over for the hormones produced in the testes, and can really limit his sperm count.  Once the supplement is stopped, the testes take over again eventually.  It can still cause atrophy in the testes (permanent shrinkage of the testes).  Men also run the risk of having gynocamastia (sp?) or "bitch tits" b/c of the estrogen-like can make the breast tissue grow.  Obviously none of this has an affect on the fetus, only the father.  So like you, I can ONLY find information on how steroids (and pro-hormones) affect the fetus if the mom is taking them, not the dad.  I have a feeling that California is putting that on their bottles as part of a CYA (cover your ass) so they can't say they didn't "tell you so", and I am also sure it applies more to women taking them than the men.  I'd also venture to say that the friend of a friend's baby born w/out a brain stem was probably more from a folic acid deficiency problem, not steroid use.

Having been involved in the bodybuilding community for YEARS (I do fitness shows), I know of several situations in which dad was taking stuff and mom got pregnant and baby was fine (In fact, everyone was more floored that she was even able to get pregnant if dad was taking b/c of the limited sperm count).  

I was able to find more info when I googled "steroid use and birth defects" rather than "pro-hormone use and birth defects", so you may want to try it that way...some (limited) studies came up when I did it....not the whole article, but the abstract, which sort of gives a brief synopsis of what was studied and the outcome!  Hope this helps some! Flowers

Me 33 Kiss DH 35

DS 5 Baby Boy 10/25/05 (born @ 41+2, 5lbs 15oz due to being IUGR from Pre-E)

Dx with non-IR PCOS January 2009 but have been off BCP since April 2008

On 1000mg of Metformin XR daily. Cycles are finally around 40-50 days long and I am ovulating!

Cycle 4 on Metformin; Nest on CD 24; 14DPO~2/6/10 BFP!!!Surprise EDD 10/17/10 (according to ultrasound), just one day difference from when DS was due in 2005 (10/16/05)!! Big Smile

BIG Ultrasound JUNE 1st!!  It's a GIRL!!!  Baby Girl

Baby Girl Born via elective repeat csection on 10/11/10 @ 10:27am, 7lbs 5oz, 19inches long!!

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Juna replied on 09-07-2010 1:14 PM

No facts or studies, just anecdotal evidence from me.  When we conceived DD (a surprise!), my DH was on a double course of prednisone (rx steroid) to prepare for some upcoming sinus surgery.  Before I knew I was pg, I had bronchitis and took a round of antibiotics accompanied by a healthy dose of narcotic cough syrup at night so I could sleep.  I was worried sick about the pregnancy.  BUT . . . we had a beautiful, healthy, perfect daughter who resulted from that auspicious beginning.

FWIW, I honestly believe that the steroids are the reason I got pg in the first place -- I'm a regular ovulator, and we were definitely in the "safe" zone.  All I can figure is I had a little bit earlier o, plus the steroids made his sperm SUPER-CHARGED so they lived a loooong time and fertilized that eggie!! 

Hope that story helps you to relax a bit!!!

Me (37);  DH (41)

Baby Boy(10); 

Baby Boy (8);

Baby Girl (6);  and

Baby Boy EDD:  April 26, 2011 

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VJHarvey replied on 09-07-2010 1:27 PM

My DH has a condition where he has to be on different types of steroids for his medical reasons.  They're prescription, however.  Some come with a warning for men not to conceive a child for up to 3 months after taking the medication due to high risk of birth defects.  I believe it was because it depletes the man's store of folic acid and that seems to carry over into the sperm and can cause damage to the child.  Who knew, right?  Some come with warnings that it'll CAUSE cancer, others are a diluted form of chemotherapy drugs.  Lovely, right?  What a great condition to have when you're still just starting a family.

Anyway, so I'd recommend talking to your doctor about it.  Find out the type of steroid it was that he was using, research it to death, and take that information to your doctor, too.  DH's doctor didn't even mention the "don't conceive while using this drug" stuff before prescribing it to a young man barely 30 years old.  We were just smart in reading the pharmacy's precautions before he took it and were glad we did since we were in the process of TTC at the time.  Once we conceived, THEN he began taking the crappy drug.  Anyway, so talk to your doctor about your concerns and just hope that s/he will be forthcoming with any information s/he has.

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daisyjj replied on 09-08-2010 10:32 AM

My DH had back surgery 3 weeks before DD was conceived and had been on various pain killers before hand and a prednisone and Lyrica 3 weeks before. The Lyrica bottle says that men should not TTC while on this drug. My doctors weren't concerned, also since his sperm that made DD was from 3 months before he took the Lyrica, I am not sure it effected DD.  Anyway I really stressed but then my doctors assured me we would check her out with a lot of u/s and that most likely she would be fine..and she was 100% perfect!!

Me-33 DH- 34  Baby Girl 9/14/08    TTC #2

Homo  MTHFR C677T      Angel 3/07  5w 6d Angel 5/07  9w 3d                  


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