Veganism or abstinence from animal products, has been on the rise for a while and is being adopted by a lot of families for health or ethical reasons. With certain essential sources of nutrients, like dairy products, being absent from the diet plan, children are likely to be exposed to some health risks, unless their diet compensates for it.
A couple in Australia reportedly put their 19-month-old daughter on a restricted vegan diet, consisting largely of oats and rice milk. Along with this, she would have half a banana in the morning, a piece of toast with jam or peanut butter for lunch, and tofu, rice and potatoes or just a bowl of oats again, reported Daily Mail. The result? The child was malnourished and diagnosed with rickets, a bone disease affecting young children and infants, causing soft and weakened bones. Even at the age of one, the child weighed only 4.9 kg, barely double of what she weighed after birth. The child and her siblings have now been put in foster care.
Veganism or abstinence from animal products, has been on the rise for a while and is being adopted by a lot of families for health or ethical reasons. With certain essential sources of nutrients, like dairy products, being absent from the diet plan, children are likely to be exposed to some health risks, unless their diet compensates for it. Dr Asmita Mahajan, consultant neonatologist and paediatrician, SL Raheja Hospital, told Express Parenting, “Giving a child a well-balanced diet is anyway difficult because of the child’s picky eating habits. Diet is a crucial part of a child’s development. Children on a vegan diet are at the risk of being deficient in vitamin D, vitamin B12, iron, calcium, protein, and even calories and fibre.”
Health risks of a restricted vegan diet
Dr Mahajan enumerated the health risks that the lack of essential nutrients may cause among children.
1. Iron deficiency can result in a low haemoglobin level and cause anemia. It affects the child’s IQ level and might lead to behavioural problems.
2. With calcium and vitamin deficiency, the bones in the body will not develop properly.
3. Zinc and vitamin B12 deficiency can affect the nervous system of children.
4. If a child remains deficient in protein, calories and the required nutrients for a long period of time, he or she can also end up being malnourished, whereby life-threatening complications can also occur.
How to follow a vegan diet
So, in case parents decide to go on a vegan diet and raise their child on the same, they should first consult a paediatrician to chalk out a nutritious diet for the child, unless they already have knowledge on how to follow this diet properly, suggested Dr Mahajan. Here’s a list of foods that the child must have:
Also Read: Following a vegan diet? Make sure your kids are not missing vital nutrients
1. For iron, children should eat vegetables like broccoli and nuts.
2. Use oils appropriate for a vegan diet, like soya oil, for necessary calories.
3. Soya milk, whole grain foods and tofu are essential sources of protein.
4. Fortified foods (which have extra nutrients added in them), especially fortified cereals are rich in calcium and vitamin D.
5. Vitamin supplements are also a good option, in case your child is a fussy eater.
6. Breastfeeding up to a minimum of the baby’s first six months of age is a must as it is a source of essential nutrients required by the newborn.
Source: Read Full Article