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Reaction: study suggests that pregnant women who follow vegan diets are at increased risk for preeclampsia and low birth weight babies

Women who follow vegan diets during pregnancy may have an increased risk of developing preeclampsia and giving birth to underweight newborns, suggests an observational study published in Acta Obstetricia et Gynecologica Scandinavica. In the investigation, more than 65,000 women identified themselves as omnivores, more than 800 as vegetarians -in some of their different modalities- and 18 as vegans.

24/01/2024 - 09:01 CET
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Duane Mellor - embarazadas veganas EN

Duane Mellor

Registered Dietitian and Senior Lecturer, Aston Medical School, Aston University

Science Media Centre UK

It can be more challenging to follow a vegan diet to ensure that it is nutritionally complete, as there can be risks of lower intakes of iron, iodine and vitamins B12 and D which can affect the health of both the mother, along with the development of the baby.

However, although the overall number of women included in this study was large at over 65,000, the studies only included 18 people who identified as being vegan. The very small number of vegans who took part means that there is a risk of statistical error and that could explain the higher rates of pre-eclampsia reported in vegans. As there were only 2 women who presented with pre-eclampsia who were vegan, it could be due to variability and chance. This study aimed to consider protein as a mediating factor, which due to the small number of women who were vegan in the study makes it very hard to fully interpret any meaning from this data.

When planning a pregnancy and during pregnancy whatever your dietary patterns and preferences it is key to eat a varied and balanced diet, including supplements as advised by government and health guidelines. If a diet is balanced and includes the necessary nutrients including protein, vitamins and minerals, the type of diet is not as important.

The author has declared they have no conflicts of interest
Adherence to different forms of plant-based diets and pregnancy outcomes in the Danish National Birth Cohort: a prospective observational study
  • Research article
  • Peer reviewed
  • Observational study
  • People
Acta Obstetricia et Gynecologica Scandinavica
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Signe Hedegaard et al.

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  • Peer reviewed
  • Observational study
  • People
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