HealthDay News — Vegetarian-vegan diets appear to be safe in pregnancy, results of a study published in BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology suggest.

“Although vegan–vegetarian diets are increasingly popular, no recent systematic reviews on vegan–vegetarian diets in pregnancy exist,” noted Giorgina B. Piccoli, MD, of the University of Torino in Italy, and colleagues.

To evaluate the literature on vegan-vegetarian diets and pregnancy outcomes in healthy women, the researchers culled data from 13 papers on maternal-fetal outcomes and nine reports on dietary deficiencies.

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Apart from one report of increased hypospadias in infants of vegetarian mothers, none of the studies reported an increase in severe adverse outcomes or in major malformations, according to the investigators. Vegetarian mothers were reported to have lower birth weight babies in five studies, while two studies reported higher birth weights.

In six studies the duration of pregnancy was available and was found to be comparable for vegan-vegetarians and omnivores. Vegan-vegetarian women may be at risk for vitamin B12 and iron deficiencies based on nine heterogeneous studies on microelements and vitamins.

“The evidence on vegan-vegetarian diets in pregnancy is heterogeneous and scant. The lack of randomized studies prevents us from distinguishing the effects of diet from confounding factors,” emphasized the scientists.

“Within these limits, vegan-vegetarian diets may be considered safe in pregnancy, provided that attention is paid to vitamin and trace element requirements.”


  1. Piccoli GB et al. BJOG.  2015; doi: 10.1111/1471-0528.13280