We’ve heard of crack babies; we’ve heard of tobacco babies; and now we are hearing about vegetarian babies.
According to a new study from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, pregnant mothers who avoid meat throughout all nine months of carrying their child further increase the risk of their offspring abusing drugs or alcohol later in life.
The study found that 15-year-old adolescents whose mothers were full vegetarians while pregnant had a higher risk of substance abuse, becoming “twice as likely to indulge in underage drinking and smoking, and nearly three times as likely to use cannabis,” reports The Daily Mail.
In recent years, veganism and vegetarianism have both become increasingly popular in the health community, a trend that researchers were hoping to buck. More from The Daily Mail:
For the study researchers analyzed the habits of 5,109 women and their offspring. The children of those who ate meat daily during their pregnancies were compared to those whose mothers abstained from meat during that time.
The due dates of the women the researches observed were between April 1, 1991, and December 31, 1992.
The researchers evaluated 5,246 of their children and the median age of the adolescent participants was about 15.5 years old.
The alcohol, drug and tobacco use habits of all the children were evaluated, which led researchers to link vegetarianism during pregnancy to an increased risk of substance abuse.
Dr. Joseph Hibbeln, the study’s lead author, believed that the reduced meat consumption causes a nutritional deficiency which affects baby’s brain development. Both meat and shellfish are rich in B12, an essential aid in the body’s metabolizing of folic acid, and vital for fetal development. Researchers conclude that vegetarian mothers should supplement this with B12-rich foods.
Dr. Hibbeln said, “Among Western populations infants of vitamin B12 deficient mothers have poor brain growth, developmental regression, irritability, thrive poorly and demonstrate residual deficits in cognitive and social development.”
Other studies also show that drunk vegetarians will also cheat on their diet and consume a little bit of that meaty goodness before the hangover kicks in. That obviously would not be beneficial to pregnant women.