Women who consume a vegetarian diet during pregnancy are more likely to give birth to children with an increased risk for alcohol and drug addiction, a new federal study claims.
The latest research from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), which was published in the latest journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research, shows that teenagers whose mothers refrained from eating meat throughout pregnancy are more susceptible to problems with alcohol, tobacco and cannabis.
The study, which shows that teens of vegetarian mothers are almost three times more likely to use marijuana than those given life by a carnivorous creatress, attributes the elevated risk for this behavior to the absence of vitamin B12 while in the womb.
“We found higher scores on the maternal ‘vegetarian’ dietary pattern during pregnancy were associated with greater likelihoods of substance misuse among their 15-year-old offspring,” said lead study author Dr. Joseph Hibbeln, who works as a nutritional neuroscientist at the NIAAA.
To come to this conclusion, researchers brought together more than 5,000 women and their children. An analysis of their diets uncovered evidence suggesting that kids who received nutrients from meat for the nine months prior to popping out into the big, bad world, were less likely to mingle with intoxicating substances than that of their eggplant-fed counterparts.
“This study identifies low meat consumption in the prenatal period as potentially modifiable risk factor for adolescent substance use,” Hibbeln said. “In identifying vitamin B12 insufficiencies as highly likely to have a contributing role to our findings, greater meat consumption need not be advised to modify this risk.”
Although the consumption of a plant-based diet is typically linked to a wealth of health benefits in adults, researchers said this dietary model could cause offspring to encounter “poor brain growth, developmental regression, irritability… and residual deficits in cognitive and social development,” if followed during the prenatal period.
It is not uncommon for vegetarians to experience a B12 deficiency during pregnancy. This is mostly because the only true source for this all-important vitamin is through the consumption of meats and shellfish. However, the presence of B12 is absolutely crucial to the development of a healthy fetus, making it an important part of a future mother’s daily routine to consume B12 through vegetarian food options and dietary supplements.