Are Vegan-Vegetarian Diets Safe in Pregnancy?

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Are Vegan-Vegetarian Diets Safe in Pregnancy?
Are Vegan-Vegetarian Diets Safe in Pregnancy?

(HealthDay News) — Vegan-vegetarian diets appear to be safe in pregnancy, according to a review published in the April issue of BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology.

Giorgina B. Piccoli, MD, from the University of Torino in Italy, and colleagues conducted a systematic literature review on vegan-vegetarian diets and pregnancy outcomes in healthy women. Thirteen papers reported maternal-fetal outcomes and nine reported on dietary deficiencies.

The researchers found that apart from one report of increased hypospadias in infants of vegetarian mothers, none of the studies reported an increase in severe adverse outcomes or in major malformations. Vegetarian mothers were reported to have lower birth weight babies in five studies, while two studies reported higher birth weights. In six studies the duration of pregnancy was available and was found to be comparable for vegan-vegetarians and omnivores. Vegan-vegetarian women may be at risk for vitamin B12 and iron deficiencies based on nine heterogeneous studies on microelements and vitamins.

"The evidence on vegan-vegetarian diets in pregnancy is heterogeneous and scant. The lack of randomized studies prevents us from distinguishing the effects of diet from confounding factors," the authors write. "Within these limits, vegan-vegetarian diets may be considered safe in pregnancy, provided that attention is paid to vitamin and trace element requirements."

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