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From: Melinda (
Subject: b12 deficiency
Date: October 14, 2004 at 7:56 pm PST

I am a female vegetarian and have been all of my adult life. We had our son almost five years ago. During my pregancy I had what I believed at the time to be an iron deficient anemia. I breastfed our son and he developed a b12 deficiency that went undiagnosed for a year. Our prior pediatrician told us he had iron deficient anemia but that it had cleared up and his developmental delay was normal. It is a long and heartbreaking story. He is catching up in many ways but this was something totally preventable. He was able to walk at 2 1/2 years after being on b12 injections for almost 6 months. Eating and chewing are still difficult for him as a result of the oral neuropathy he experienced. Overall he is a happy little boy unlike the 2 year old you could not even tickle. He will celebrate his 5th birthday very soon. For anyone interested in more information on b12 deficiencies you may contact the Centers For Disease Control. Dr. Paul Fernhoff, Dr.Sonja A.Rasmussen and Dr. Kelley S Scanlon wrote the article which appeared in the Jan. 2001 Journal of Pediatrics Vol.138,No.1,,pp.10-17. Another article appeared in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report Jan. 31 2003/Vol.52/No.4. Dr. Fernhoff's e mail address is His phone number is 404 727-0490. Dr.Rasmussen's number is 770 488-7152. They are both supportive of vegetarian life styles. Anyone in the field of media or public health in particular I would truly appreciate you contacting the CDC and getting more information and distributing it in order to prevent this from happening to other children. When I contacted the national office of the La Leche League in 2003 they were unaware the CDC reports as were the local LLL chapters. Local lactation consultants were not aware of B12 deficiencies in lacto ova vegetanians. I would love to hear from anyone interested in prevention as well as anyone whose child has suffered and hopefully overcome this.
Another reccomendation I have come across is for all vegetarians to have the methylmalonic acid level in their urine tested. When you have low b12 the level of methymalonic acid rises. Some foods contain b12 analogs that could result in showing higher levels of b12 in your blood but are nonbioavailable. Products whose labels do not specify cyanocobalamin might include nonbioavailable sources according to the CDC report. I sincerely hope this helps someone.

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