An 11-month old baby passed away after being exclusively breastfed by his vegan mother. An autopsy revealed he had suffered vitamin A and B12 deficiencies, and his parents were later charged with a five-year sentence for neglect.
Poor nutritional intake in vegan breastfeeding
While the French court evidently takes a serious view on ensuring parents care adequately for their newborns, one thing evident from this incident is the lack of nutrients a vegan may suffer from.
Experts have, for years, recommended vegans, and vegan breastfeeding mums, to take Vitamin B12 supplements because they tend to have a higher chance of vitamin deficiency as a result of boycotting eggs, dairy products and meat from their diet. Vitamin A in its actual form, for instance, is only found in meats and not in beta carotene, as is widely believed.
RELATED: Increase lactation with this nutritious fish head and green papaya soup recipe
Breastmilk is not the same in all women
The death of the 11-month old infant has shone the spotlight once again on the debate surrounding whether or not a mother’s diet directly affects the quality of her breastmilk. Many breastfeeding advocates insist the amount of nutrients found in breastmilk is consistent in all mothers and independent from their diets. Unfortunately, this is not true — the case of the vegan breastfeeding mum’s lack of nutrients is proof of this.
Getting it right
For pregnant mums, it’s absolutely important that you consume a sufficient amount of nutrients by maintaining a balanced diet, particularly if you are opting for vegan breastfeeding. Improve the nutritional content of your breastmilk by consuming enough protein, iron and carbohydrates. We suggest foods to include in your every day diet.
- Salmon and cod
These fish contain high levels of omega-3 and DHA, an acid that enhances your baby’s development.
Eggs are protein-rich and versatile. There are so many ways to cook your eggs– poach, scramble or hard-boil them. Consider buying eggs fortified with Omega-3 and DHA.
- Red meats and leafy greens
Iron encourages blood cell renewal in your body. You can enjoy your iron-intake from lean beef, while vegetarians have the option of kidney beans, spinach and broccoli, to name a few.
- Calcium-rich foods
These include yoghurt, milk, almonds and tofu. It’s important to ensure you eat a balanced diet to get your little one ready for the world.
- Yellows and Greens
Did you know yellow, and green, colored foods tend to contain a greater variety of nutrients? Vitamin E, folic acid, riboflavin and magnesium are prevalent in mangoes, peaches, oranges, spinach and carrots.
If you’re intent on keeping to your vegan diet, however, make sure you have a chat with your gynaecologist so he can work out if you’re getting ample nutrients for you and your baby.