Study: Vegetarian-Mums-to-Be are More Likely to Have Alcohol and Drug Dependent Children

nutrition and diet during pregnancy. Pregnant woman standing near refrigerator with fruits and vegetables

New research suggests that pregnant women who are vegetarian or vegan could increase the risk of their offspring becoming addicted to drugs in the future.

Nowadays, many women, including expectant mums are going vegetarian or vegan. While it seems to be a healthy choice, a recent study by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism indicates that mums of teenagers who did not eat meat or practice vegan diet during their pregnancy are more prone to substance abuse. They are also twice as likely to indulge in underage drinking, smoking and three times more likely to use cannabis.

The reason behind this is most vegetarian mothers could lack vitamin B12 in their diet while the baby is developing. Vitamin B12 is mainly found in red meat, poultry, milk products and shellfish, and is essential for the baby’s neural tube formation, brain, blood cells, spine and nerve development. According to study lead author Dr. Joseph Hibbeln, infants of vitamin B12 mothers among Western populations have poor brain growth, lack social development, thrive poorly and are likely more irritable.

Is Vegetarian or Vegan Diet Bad for Pregnant Mums?

  1. While health experts recommend that pregnant women should have sufficient intake of vitamin B12, the U.K.’s National Health Service (NHS) has responded that further research is necessary before getting more definitive conclusions. The findings do not mean that vegetarian and vegan pregnant women must start eating meat. It is crucial for a pregnant mother to eat healthy food in order to provide enough nutrients for the baby’s developing brain and body. As long as you eat Vitamin B12-rich foods, along with certain nutrients that are found in meat and fish like vitamin D and iron, it should NOT pose risks to your child.

Non-meat foods that are good sources of B12 are eggs, milk, cheese and yogurt. According to Vegan Society, vegans should do one of the following:

  • Eat fortified foods two or three times a day to get at least 3 mcg of B12 a day
  • Take one B12 supplement daily that contains at least 10 micrograms
  • Take one B12 supplement per week providing at least 2000 micrograms

Apart from B12, Physicians Committee For Responsible Medicine, also recommend that pregnant women should consume at least 71 grams of protein each day. Non-meat protein sources include grains, legumes and beans.

Talk to your doctor to help you take vitamin supplements during your pregnancy and avoid of getting nutrient deficiency.



Image Credit: wotv4women

Jane Prudencio

Jane Prudencio My name is Jane, a full time working mother handling campaigns for a private company in Australia. I write to share my experiences and thoughts to help mothers and parents who search/read online articles about kids, health, and lifestyle. View my other posts