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Can you link me to some studies of vegan and vegetarian children?

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

I am especially interested in studies from India, where there is a huge vegetarian population, but I am having trouble finding them.  Most of what I do find is about an increased risk of one deficiency or another.  If this is the only problem, then I will just make sure to give iron, B-12, and other supplements.  I am interested in IQ, height, and overall health.

 

I was excited by a claim on Peta's India site, saying that vegetarian children have higher IQs, but it is turning out that this is most likely a distortion.  The only studies I can find say that children with high IQs are more likely to BECOME vegetarian.  If they are "becoming," then that means they ate meat when those IQs were being developed.

 

Any links would be appreciated.  I am vegan, but I am interested in vegetarian studies, as well.

post #2 of 9

It's not a study, it's just my kids, and we are not in India, we are in Arizona (though we do love to eat Indian food.)

 

We had to take our daughter off dairy because it was one, of several, foods that was giving her diarrhea. Although she was still eating eggs, that was her only animal source food. Our pediatrician and I decided to check labs to make sure the kids levels were ok. We did a CBC and B12. 

 

When they got the results, they called and spoke to my husband (he didn't understand what we were doing.) They told him to take the kids off the B12 supplements, their levels were really high. Ummm...they're not getting B12 supplements. At least not directly, they do get fortified rice milk. Our son was still eating some cheese and drinking cow's milk, but his dairy consumption was way down. He wouldn't drink rice milk, but would drink it in his smoothie every day. My daughter was only on fortified non-dairy milk and eggs. Granted they're from our chickens' eggs, so they're likely really healthy, but still...

 

Regarding IQ...my son said, "These flowers smell like pollination" at 29 months. He's not a rock star genius, but he's pretty dang smart. Our daughter has a speech delay (genetic from the biological family.) Her intelligence tested in the normal range when we were evaluating her for speech therapy.

 

Both kids are average height and below 50th percentile for weight. 

post #3 of 9
Thread Starter 

Thanks!  Congratulations on the healthy kids.  I know just one vegan child, and he is healthy, short, and probably of average or slightly higher intelligence, though I don't know his IQ.

post #4 of 9
Google Scholar has lots of studies, here are a few:

http://www.ajcn.org/content/48/3/822.short
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1365-277X.1992.tb00129.x/abstract
http://pedsinreview.aappublications.org/content/25/5/174.short
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2656635/

From the reading I've done, I've found mixed results on height (some say vegan children tend to be taller, others say they tend to be shorter)... I think this is more a genetic thing (in the absence of severe malnutrition or growth hormone issues, that is). I don't really care what height my kids are, TBH, so it's not something I've really looked into much.

In terms of overall health, the studies seem to indicate that most vegan children are very healthy. I think you just need to be smart about it... both vegan & non-vegan kids will have various deficiencies if they are eating a limited diet and are not supplemented accordingly. I do have to say I'm uncertain about comparing vegan blood levels with the population at large, since most of the comparison population is not vegan. It would be nice if there were vegan standards of blood levels that take into account how differently the body utilizes vegan & non-vegan sources of nutrients. Some vegan children will have low levels of iron, for example, but not be even slightly anemic... so I would argue that if they aren't experiencing any negative health effects, their low iron levels are 'normal' (for a vegan child).

The only things I've read about IQ are what you read, that people with higher IQs are more likely to become vegetarian.

Anecdotally, my 3yo vegan DS (vegan since conception) is really short -- however DH & I (and our parents, too) are also really short. He seems healthy overall, is rarely sick. He had a minor neurological issue (a tic, probably due to anxiety) for a month or so once, and has high anxiety overall (but again, virtually everyone on my side of the family has major anxiety disorders, and none of them are vegan or were as children). He is very smart, when evaluated for EI at 2yo for some social/emotional issues, he tested at 4yo level (the highest they test) in nearly all areas. He is also an amazing eater... he will eat just about anything and really loves his veggies. I don't know if that's due to being vegan, or doing baby-led weaning, or we just lucked out, but he eats so healthily and so well, so I feel like the vegan diet is a good fit for him for now.
post #5 of 9
Thread Starter 

Wow, what a wealth.  Thank you!

 

I see what you mean about non-vegan blood levels perhaps not being the ideal standard.  I've thought this, myself.  I want to know how my levels compare to what is objectively ideal, not to what typical non-vegans have.  Personally, I am inclined to try to keep iron levels high, since I read a study in Britain that linked iron levels to IQ, but I can't be sure it was accurate.  The only reason I care about height is that I get the feeling that most people want to be tall, and I want to offer my child the opportunity to be as tall as s/he is genetically able to be.  (That said, I do have one friend who, at 5'10", for some reason believes that being tall has practically ruined her life.)  Personally, I like both short and tall people equally.  DH and I are both tall, so if our child is short, I will be suspicious that something odd is going on.

 

Love the "very smart" - I hope I get that, too.  :-)  I have a little bit of experience dealing with children with tics and OCD (as a nanny), but I probably couldn't tell you much that you haven't already read.  If you ever want to chat about it, let me know.

post #6 of 9

There's a book that reviews the major studies of veg*n children. It's very cheap used if you use Amazon: The New Vegetarian Baby. I got it out from the local library. It will not have the most recent studies, but it goes through every study up until that point and reviews each study in a non-cheerleader way.

post #7 of 9
Thread Starter 

Thanks!  I put it on my Wish List and will probably end up buying it for myself, eventually.  I have heard good things about it from others, as well.

post #8 of 9

Advantages of Vegetarian Diets for Children:

http://www.pcrm.org/search/?cid=264

post #9 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by MrsSlocombe View Post

 Personally, I am inclined to try to keep iron levels high, since I read a study in Britain that linked iron levels to IQ, but I can't be sure it was accurate.  


I saw a study somewhere that said that anemia at 2 is related to behavior problems at 20. I may have heard it on NPR, but I'm not sure.

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