Food and Behaviour Research

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Vitamin B12 and brain development.

Stollhoff K, Schulte FJ. (1987) Eur J Pediatr.  1987 Mar;146(2):201-5  

Web URL: View this and related abstracts via PubMed here


This is a report of a 1 1/2-year-old male with megaloblastic anaemia and a progressive neurological disorder clinically resembling leucodystrophy.

The child was exclusively breast fed and his mother had been a strict vegetarian for more than 4 years before the child was born.

After Vitamin B12 therapy the anaemia disappeared and the neurological condition dramatically improved.


As this case study illustrates, Vitamin B12 deficiency can seriously damage infant health and development - particularly that of the brain and nervous system.

Vegan diets lack Vitamin B12, so adequate supplementation of this nutrient is essential for anyone following such a diet - but it is particularly crucial during pregnancy and breastfeeding. 

The diet of this mother is described as 'vegetarian' - but the fact that her child was deficient enough in Vitamin B12 to show overt neurological symptoms indicates that she did not obtain sufficient B12 from eggs and/or dairy products to meet the needs of her unborn child.