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Vegan diets put pregnant moms and babies at risk

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Vegan diets putting mums-to-be and babies ‘at risk’

Nine in ten women trying for a baby lack key nutrients, a global study suggests

by Kat Lay


Eating meat and dairy during pregnancy could reduce vitamin deficiencies found in 90 per cent of expectant mothers - GETTY


The trend towards vegan diets is putting the health of pregnant women and babies at risk, a global study suggests.
Researchers found 90 per cent of expectant mothers in high-income countries, including the UK, were lacking key vitamins needed for healthy pregnancies.
They included vitamins B12, B6 and D, as well as folic acid and riboflavin which are key to the development of unborn babies in the womb. All are found “in abundance” in meat and dairy products, the scientists said.
Keith Godfrey, the lead author and professor of epidemiology from the University of Southampton, said: “The push to reduce our dependence on meat and dairy to achieve net-zero carbon emissions is likely to further deplete expecting mothers of vital nutrients, which could have lasting effects on unborn children.
“Our study shows that almost every woman trying to conceive had insufficient levels of one or more vitamins and this figure is only going to get worse as the world moves towards plant-based diets. People think that nutrient deficiency only affects people in underdeveloped countries — but it is also affecting the majority of women living in high-income nations.”
Shiao-Yng Chan, co-author and associate professor at the National University of Singapore, said: “If we continue to move towards diets with less meat and dairy products, reducing intakes of micronutrients essential for a child’s development, vitamin deficiencies will continue to grow unless women start taking more supplements or are supported with specific advice about nutrient-rich foods.”
The study is published in PLOS Medicine and involved 1,729 women aged 18 to 38 when they conceived.
When recruited to the study, over 90 per cent had “low or marginal” levels of at least one of the vitamins. Concentrations of riboflavin, B6 and B12 declined in women who were not given multivitamin supplements during pregnancy.
The researchers said using over-the-counter multivitamins could substantially reduce the deficiencies they found.
Ian Givens, professor of food chain nutrition at the University of Reading, said: “This study is very timely and should provide the impetus to reassess dietary provision of key nutrients before and during pregnancy.
“In UK omnivores, dairy foods, meat and fish provide about 80 per cent of dietary vitamin B12 and meat, eggs and fish provide about 65 per cent of dietary vitamin D although dietary supply only provides about 3 micrograms per day, meaning that supplementary vitamin D is necessary.
“As the authors suggest, the current trend towards diets with animal-derived foods being at least partially replaced by plant-based foods will further increase the risk of sub-optimal status of vitamin B12 and D and other nutrients in women of childbearing age. This needs to be considered when such dietary transition is contemplated.”
Dr Duane Mellor, a registered dietitian and senior lecturer at Aston Medical School, expressed concerns about the study’s conclusions.
He said: “This paper does not actually report any health changes experienced during pregnancy or how healthy the babies were when they were born.
“It is also interesting that a number of the researchers were co-inventors with Nestlé for the supplement used in the study, which contained not only B vitamins, vitamin D, zinc and iodine it also contained myo-inositol and probiotic bacteria. It might be seen as a potential conflict of interest that the researchers are co-inventors of the supplement with a large multinational food company.”
The competing interests declaration on the paper said the authors had “no financial interest” in the patents filed by Nestlé for the supplement.
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  • 4 weeks later...

When I became pregnant with my daughter I had been vegetarian for 8 years. The first 3 months of my pregnancy were horrendous, I was basically bed bound, nauseous and vomiting all day every day and found out I was seriously anemic when I got blood tests.

Needless to say I started eating some meat, I’ll never forget those delicious barbecued pork ribs after 8 years of not eating meat.

For ethical and spiritual reasons I would prefer to be vegan, but in reality my body needs meat to thrive and remain healthy. It’s taken me over 50 years to figure this out and to accept reality, better late than never I guess and now I have a future to look forward to.

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17 hours ago, Jen said:

The first 3 months of my pregnancy were horrendous, I was basically bed bound, nauseous and vomiting all day every day and found out I was seriously anemic when I got blood tests.

Sounds like my wife. She had hyperemesis gravidarum for both pregnancies. It's basically an allergy to a hormone produced during pregnancy. She vomited multiple times a day for weeks and weeks and ended up having to take a motion sickness medication to suppress it. When it came time to give birth, she actually weighed less than at the start of her term. She was even told a 3rd pregnancy might kill her, because it get's worse with each one.

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