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Arch Pediatr. 2001 Jan;8(1):62-5.

[Anemia and limping in a vegetarian adolescent].

[Article in French]

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Département de médecine de l'enfant et de l'adolescent, hôpital Sud, CHU, 16, boulevard de Bulgarie, 35056 Rennes, France.


A vegan diet in the child and adolescent can induce severe bone sequelae by rickets and osteomalacia and megaloblastic anemia by cobalamin deficiency.


A 15-year-old adolescent was hospitalized because of lameness and pallor. The lameness was explained by femoral epiphysiolysis caused by rickets with severe hypocalcemia. The pallor, jaundice and splenomegalia were due to cobalamin-deficiency megaloblastic anemia. A prolonged supplemental diet with calcium, vitamins D and B12 as well as orthopedic treatment stabilized the bone lesions. The megaloblastic anemia was cured by parenteral cobalamin. The adolescent and his brother were victims of a diet imposed by a cult and a lack of care due to their parents refusing that a vegan diet was the cause of the deficient pathology. Penal proceedings led to the incarceration of the parents and to the placement of the children.


Deficiencies in calcium and vitamins D and B12 may be severe in a child's development with a vegan diet. This case report reveals the social and legal problems of an inappropriate diet in infancy imposed by parents who are followers of a fundamentalist church. Beyond the management of children in cults, health professionals have to prevent, screen and supplement the deficient diet.

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