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Compared with omnivorous mothers, vegetarian mothers have lower intakes of some nutrients required for neurological development. However, there is a lack of information about the impact of vegetarianism during pregnancy on subsequent cognitive function in children. The aim of this study was to investigate whether vegetarianism during pregnancy is associated with altered maternal nutritional status and with cognitive function in children at six to seven years of age. Women aged 20-34 years participating in a prospective observational study who provided dietary data and blood samples in early pregnancy (11 weeks; 78 vegetarians and 2144 omnivores) or late pregnancy (34 weeks; 91 vegetarians and 2552 omnivores). Compared with omnivorous women, vegetarian women had lower blood concentrations of arachidonic acid, docosahexaenoic acid, and cobalamin in early and late pregnancy. Vegetarianism in pregnancy was linked to higher maternal educational attainment, longer breastfeeding duration, lower incidence of smoking during pregnancy and a tendency towards higher IQ in the mothers. Concentrations of some nutrients required for neurodevelopment were lower in maternal blood during gestation; however, after controlling for confounders consuming a vegetarian diet during pregnancy was not associated with poorer neurocognitive development of the children in this study.

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IQ, child, cobalamin, cognition, dietary choice, docosahexaenoic acid, executive function, polyunsaturated fatty acids, pregnancy, vegetarian