Iron deficiency and anemia in vegetarian mothers and their newborns
Blood haemoglobin, serum iron, iron binding capacity, transferrin saturation and ferritin levels were determined in two groups of mothers as well as their cords—strict vegetarians (lactovegetarians) and non-vegetarians (omnivores), closely comparable in age, weight, parity and gestation period but differing in their diet and food habits. All these parameters, except total iron binding capacity, were found to be significantly lower in vegetarian mothers and their cords as compared to nonvegetarian mothers and their cords, respectively, despite receiving supplemental iron for six months. Further, there was a greater incidence of anemia and iron deficiency in mothers consuming only vegetarian diet. Moreover, a significant correlation existed between mother's ferritin to cord ferritin confirming that maternal iron deficiency does affect neonatal iron status. All these observations suggest that strict vegetarian mothers as well as their newborns have a greater incidence and risk of anemia and iron deficiency.