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J Matern Fetal Neonatal Med. 2019 Mar 25:1-7. doi: 10.1080/14767058.2019.1590330. [Epub ahead of print]

The impact of lacto-ovo-/lacto-vegetarian and vegan diets during pregnancy on the birth anthropometric parameters of the newborn.

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a Institute of Pediatrics , Catholic University Medical School , Rome , Italy.
b Service of Pediatrics , Campus Bio-Medico University , Rome , Italy.
c Unit of Food Science and Human Nutrition , Campus Bio-Medico University , Rome , Italy.
d Food Sciences and Human Nutrition Unit , Fondazione Policlinico Universitario Agostino Gemelli , Rome , Italy.
e Nutritionist Biologist , Rome , Italy.



The data in the literature on the appropriateness of vegetarian diets during pregnancy and the impact on the birth anthropometric parameters of the newborn are divergent and conflicting. The aim of the present study is to compare the birth anthropometric parameters of three groups of children distinguished according to the dietary pattern followed by their mothers during pregnancy. Moreover, the second aim is to study the cultural inference of vegetarianism.


Between September 2017 and May 2018, from the Pediatric Service of the Campus Bio-Medico University Hospital of Rome and vegetarian-oriented societies, detailed information have been provided to all mothers who showed interest in participating in the study. More than 100 mothers gave their consent, but in consideration of the criteria of inclusion and exclusion only 55 with the respective children (for a total of 63 kids) have been enlisted in the study. Based on the dietary pattern followed by women during pregnancy, the participants have been divided into three groups: vegan group, lacto-ovo-/lacto-vegetarian group, and omnivorous group. The data necessary for the study have been collected through a questionnaire previously created and sent electronically to 55 enrolled mothers.


From our statistical analysis, it has emerged that birth weight, both when expressed in grams and when expressed in growth percentiles, of the vegan mothers' children is lower than that of the omnivorous mothers' children. No significant difference has emerged from the comparison for the length, cranial circumference and BMI at birth between the three groups.


Although from our study statistically significant differences in birth weight between the vegan group and the omnivorous one has emerged, the values of this anthropometric parameter were all included within the physiological range decided by the experts in the field. From this, it emerges that the planning of any type of diet with experts in the field is indispensable to ensure a physiological development of the fetus, but given the limited number of participants we cannot draw unequivocal and certain conclusions on this subject.


Newborn; pregnancy; vegan diet; vegetarian diet

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