Skip to main content

Vitamin B12 for vegetarian mothers

This case study reviewed an infant who required vitamin B12 to address numerous health problems (1). A vitamin B12 deficiency in infants is rare, but may sometimes be seen in breastfed babies of strict vegetarian mothers. Vitamin B12, also known as cobalamin, is only found in meat and other animal products. Most babies have a sufficient supply as long as the mother was not deficient herself. Symptoms and signs of vitamin B12 deficiency appear between the ages of 2 to 12 months and include vomiting, lethargy, failure to thrive, hypotonia, and arrest or regression of developmental skills. This article presents a case of vitamin B12 deficiency in a 9-month-old girl presented with psychomotor regression, hypotonia and lethargy. The child was exclusively breast-fed from birth by a mother who was on strict vegetarian diet and belong to a low socio-economic status. Laboratory data revealed bicytopenia with macrocytic anemia and methylmalonic acid in the urine, consistent with vitamin B12 deficient anemia. The Brain CT revealed a cerebral atrophy and delayed myelination. Vitamin B12 supply was effective on anaemia and psychomotor delay. The authors conclude that this case highlights the importance of an early diagnosis in front of psychomotor regression and hypotonia, given the risk of incomplete neurologic recovery due to vitamin B12 deficiency mainly in the setting of maternal nutritional deficiency.