hero image

Pregnant women adhering to a vegan diet may potentially expose themselves and their infants to health risks, as indicated by recent research. A study conducted by researchers from Denmark suggests that mothers following a vegan lifestyle have an increased likelihood of experiencing preeclampsia, and their newborns may exhibit a higher probability of having a reduced birth weight.

Veganism could put pregnant mothers at risk of preeclampsia

In the past few years, there has been a notable surge in the adoption of veganism in Western societies due to ethical, animal welfare and environmental considerations. This plant-focused lifestyle, formerly on the fringes, now plays a substantial role in our dietary choices. Denmark, as an example, has witnessed a rise in veganism from less than one percent in 2010 to around three percent in 2022, particularly noticeable among young adults and pregnant women. The impact of this dietary shift on pregnancy outcomes raises important questions.

The inquiry into this matter finds resolution within the Danish National Birth Cohort, comprising a substantial cohort of more than 91,000 women. The objective of this investigation was to elucidate the nutritional makeup of diverse plant-centric diets throughout pregnancy and explore their correlations with childbirth outcomes.

From 1996 to 2002, a research project included 91,381 expectant mothers, representing about 35% of Denmark’s births. Thorough interviews and diet analysis via a comprehensive Food Frequency Questionnaire were conducted. Participants were classified into fish/poultry vegetarians, lacto/ovo-vegetarians, vegans, or omnivores. Comparative analyses evaluated birth weights, gestational lengths, and pregnancy complications.

Vegan diets have low gestational diabetes prevalence

Plant-based diet groups (vegans, lacto/ovo-vegetarians, fish/poultry vegetarians) generally consume less energy and protein but more carbohydrates than omnivores. Including dietary supplements meets most nutrient recommendations, except for vitamin D in vegans. Vegan mothers have infants with lower birth weights and higher low birth weight prevalence. Plant-based diets exhibit low gestational diabetes prevalence, but vegan mothers have a higher preeclampsia prevalence.

It is important to note that plant-based diets generally do not negatively impact pregnancy outcomes, but strict vegan diets may pose risks such as lower birth weights and preeclampsia due to potential nutritional deficiencies.