Vegan diet: 2-year-old girl in intensive care in Genoa
Vegan diet: 2-year-old girl in intensive care in Genoa

Yesterday Chiara, not even three years old, arrived at the emergency room of the Gaslini pediatric hospital in Genoa "in very serious conditions". So much so that she was immediately transferred to the intensive care unit in conditions of severe deficiency of vitamin B12, weight clearly below the reference percentile, poor reactivity and slowed movements.

A clinical picture compatible with the effects of one vegan diet on a small child.

According to the first reconstructions made by the health facility, Chiara's parents follow a vegan diet, that is a diet without food of animal origin, which they have decided to follow also to the child.

Pediatricians are alarmed because more and more children are eating vegan, and compensating for the absence of meat, milk and eggs is difficult, there is often a lack of vitamin B12. Not for nothing in the hospital the cases of malnutrition relating to even very small children increase, with damage that can be found even after years.

Children do not know they are, or should be, omnivores, carnivores, vegans or vegetarians. They don't even know which way they are facing: they totally depend on us. Also, and above all, in what we give it as nourishment starting from the very first food: mother's milk.

Chiara was nursed for a long time by her mother, who also during this period would have followed the vegan diet.

And precisely considering breast milk, the first and only food for infants, pediatricians sound the alarm: milk from vegan mothers is deficient, it always has to do with the now infamous vitamin B12 (present in meat, fish, eggs and milk).

And the children end up in the hospital.

Also because, as in the case of Chiara, with weaning, the family's eating habits extend to the children even after weaning.

Now the girl is better, she has begun to recover, but only a series of tests will be able to ascertain whether she has suffered permanent neurological damage, while the doctors are confident that the muscular system will recover.

The vegan diet is a very strict diet, with supplements it is theoretically possible to follow it to a child but only on condition that it is cared for with continuous checks by a pediatrician, ready to intervene when vitamin deficiencies become dangerous for the little ones.

And even having the skills of a professional with years of study and practice behind him is not easy, let alone for improvised dietitian parents, albeit of good will.

For this reason, pediatricians do not discuss the choices of families (indeed, in some cities such as Genoa you can ask for a vegan diet for your child at school, but only after having presented a medical certificate), however they ask for the certainty that one of them follow the child, protecting him from damage.

Damage that is often worth one to parents report for ill-treatment to the Juvenile Court on the part of the hospital but above all, in the most serious cases, they lead children to very serious or, in the worst cases, irreversible psychomotor delays.

Are you sure that's what we want?

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