Last update: Oct. 11, 2017
Moderately safe. Probably compatible.
Mild risk possible. Follow up recommended.
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According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (Melina 2016), well-planned vegetarian diets are healthy, nutritionally adequate and can provide benefits for the prevention and treatment of various chronic diseases. They are appropriate for all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, breastfeeding and childhood and are environmentally sustainable.
However, they must be "appropriately planned" (Melina 2016) since there may be difficulties in balancing them if one does not have experience and knowledge of nutrition (Brzezińska 2016).
The vegan diet does not contain meat, eggs, milk or, sometimes, honey. Milk from vegan mothers contains low concentrations of vitamin B12 (Specker 1990).
In practice, many cases of megaloblastic anemia have been reported in recent years and have a severe impact on physical and neurological development (including cerebral atrophy) in infants breastfed by vegan mothers (Kocaoglu 2014, Guez 2012, Mariani 2009, Roed 2009 , Erdeve 2009, Lücke 2007, Baatenburg 2006 and 2005, Codazzi 2005, Wagnon 2005, Reghu 2005, Roschitz 2005, Weiss 2004, CDC 2003, Fogarasi 2001, Smolka 2001, Renault 1999, Monfort 1993, Kühne 1991, Cheron 1989, Sklar 1986 , Lacroix 1981).
There are also cases of neonatal hypothyroidism in infants of vegan mothers (Borak 2005, Shaikh 2003).
Vegetarian women need, during pregnancy and breastfeeding, regular and adequate sources of vitamin B12 (Melina 2016, Brzezińska 2016, Committee LM AEP 2012 p.7, Academy N&D 2010). If these are deficient, in addition to treating the mothers, you have to treat their infants with supplements (CDC 2003).
Infants and milk from vegetarian mothers (and especially vegan mothers) have lower levels of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and higher levels of linoleic and α-linolenic acids than that from omnivorous mothers (Melina 2016, Brzezińska 2016, Sanders 2009 and 1992 ), without there being evidence of adverse effects on their health or cognitive function (Sanders 2009).
There is a greater concentration of selenium in the breast milk of ovo-lacto-vegetarian mothers than that of non-vegetarian mothers (Debski 1989).
The concentration of taurine in plasma and milk of vegan mothers was slightly lower than that of omnivorous mothers (Rana 1986).
The lowest levels of organochlorine contaminants were found in the milk of vegetarian mothers (Norén 1983).
Suggestions made at e-lactancia are done by APILAM´s pediatricians and pharmacists, and are based on updated scientific publications.
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