The Importance Of Nutrition During Pregnancy

1093 Words 4 Pages
During pregnancy, there is increased absorption of B₁₂ in the intestines to ensure maximum intake of B₁₂ available to [both] the mother and the infant. A deficiency of this vitamin is problematic because it is important for the synthesis of DNA and red blood cells, and also plays a role in the growth and maintenance of nerve cells. Vitamin B₁₂ also participates in the production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) in the mitochondria, which is used for energy. Vitamin B₁₂ is stored in the liver and kidney, but maternal stores of this nutrient are not available to the fetus. Studies have suggested that only the vitamin B₁₂ ingested during pregnancy can be transported across the placenta. If the mother experiencing vitamin B₁₂ deficiency may show …show more content…
In 1986, the 7-month-old son of a vegan mother was admitted to the hospital with signs of a vitamin B₁₂ deficiency. The baby was exclusively breast fed and was pale, lethargic, and unresponsive to stimuli. After vitamin B₁₂ was supplemented into the diet, the baby became more alert and developed normally. The doctor also prescribed vitamin B₁₂ supplements to the mother to increase the concentration of B₁₂ in breast milk and thus increase the availability of B₁₂ for the infant (Skylar, 1986). In 2005, a similar case appeared: the 7-month-old child of a vegan mother was admitted to the hospital. Again, the baby was exclusively breastfed and was weak, pale, and irritable. The child also had erratic convulsions, and showed signs of anemia and hypocalcemia (low calcium concentrations in the blood). Upon the introduction of vitamin D and B₁₂ supplements into the diet, the child’s health improved. However, the baby grew up to have impaired speech development after 2 years (de Jong et al., 2005). One study found that 50% of infants from vegan mothers suffered from long term developmental impairment, while 33% of the infants developed normally (Dror and Allen, 2008). The severity and length of time of deficiency affects whether the deficiency will affect the infant long term. Nevertheless, supplementing vitamin B₁₂ into a B₁₂-deficient infant induces …show more content…
DHA is an omega-3 fatty acid found naturally only in animal products, primarily in fish and seafood, and is important for vision and mental development. The human body can also produce DHA from alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which is found in canola oil, soy milk, and walnuts. However, the conversion of ALA to DHA is inefficient, and research has found that supplementing ALA into the mother’s diet does not increase DHA concentrations in breastmilk or in the infant (Mangels and Craig, 2009). On the other hand, DHA supplements during pregnancy increases the length of gestation, reducing the risk of a preterm birth, and leads to an increase in infant weight (Derbyshire, 2009). In a study concerning the presence of DHA on infant growth and development, the infants fed a soy formula that was not fortified with DHA were found to have impaired neurological development. They displayed less recognition memory and sustained attention than the infants fed a DHA-fortified soy formula, and were also found to have a higher heart rate (Pivik et al., 2009). During lactation, low levels of DHA in breastmilk can be due to the higher ratio of linoleic acid to ALA. Linoleic acid is converted to omega-6 fatty acids in the body, and is found in leafy vegetables, grains, and vegetable oils, such as corn and sesame oil. Because linoleic acid and ALA compete for the same enzyme for the synthesis of fatty acids, an

Related Documents