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Open AccessArticle

Vegetarian Diet during Pregnancy Is Not Associated with Poorer Cognitive Performance in Children at Age 6–7 Years

1
MRC Lifecourse Epidemiology Unit, Southampton General Hospital, University of Southampton, Southampton SO16 6YD, UK
2
NIHR Southampton Biomedical Research Centre, University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust and University of Southampton, Southampton SO16 6YD, UK
3
School of Human Development and Health, Faculty of Medicine, University of Southampton, Southampton SO16 6YD, UK
4
AGE Research Group, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne NE4 5PL, UK
5
NIHR Newcastle Biomedical Research Centre, Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne NE4 5PL, UK
6
Centre for Cognitive Ageing & Cognitive Epidemiology, Department of Psychology, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh EH8 9AZ, UK
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Present address: Institute of Developmental Sciences Building (MP887), Faculty of Medicine, University of Southampton, Southampton General Hospital, Tremona Road, Southampton SO16 6YD, UK.
Nutrients 2019, 11(12), 3029; https://doi.org/10.3390/nu11123029
Received: 3 October 2019 / Revised: 5 December 2019 / Accepted: 10 December 2019 / Published: 11 December 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Vegetarian, Vegan Diets and Human Health)
Compared with omnivorous mothers, vegetarian mothers have lower intakes of some nutrients required for neurological development. However, there is a lack of information about the impact of vegetarianism during pregnancy on subsequent cognitive function in children. The aim of this study was to investigate whether vegetarianism during pregnancy is associated with altered maternal nutritional status and with cognitive function in children at six to seven years of age. Women aged 20–34 years participating in a prospective observational study who provided dietary data and blood samples in early pregnancy (11 weeks; 78 vegetarians and 2144 omnivores) or late pregnancy (34 weeks; 91 vegetarians and 2552 omnivores). Compared with omnivorous women, vegetarian women had lower blood concentrations of arachidonic acid, docosahexaenoic acid, and cobalamin in early and late pregnancy. Vegetarianism in pregnancy was linked to higher maternal educational attainment, longer breastfeeding duration, lower incidence of smoking during pregnancy and a tendency towards higher IQ in the mothers. Concentrations of some nutrients required for neurodevelopment were lower in maternal blood during gestation; however, after controlling for confounders consuming a vegetarian diet during pregnancy was not associated with poorer neurocognitive development of the children in this study. View Full-Text
Keywords: vegetarian; pregnancy; cognition; executive function; IQ; child; polyunsaturated fatty acids; cobalamin; docosahexaenoic acid; dietary choice vegetarian; pregnancy; cognition; executive function; IQ; child; polyunsaturated fatty acids; cobalamin; docosahexaenoic acid; dietary choice
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Crozier, S.R.; Godfrey, K.M.; Calder, P.C.; Robinson, S.M.; Inskip, H.M.; Baird, J.; Gale, C.R.; Cooper, C.; Sibbons, C.M.; Fisk, H.L.; Burdge, G.C. Vegetarian Diet during Pregnancy Is Not Associated with Poorer Cognitive Performance in Children at Age 6–7 Years. Nutrients 2019, 11, 3029.

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