Infants who follow the dietary plan, which excludes meat, fish, dairy and honey, tend to be leaner and smaller than people who eat meat, it’s been claimed.And in some instances, Professor Mary Fewtrell adds, a poorly-managed vegan diet could result in death for young children.

The vegan lifestyle €“ which seeks to exclude all animal-based products €“ is now increasingly popular in the UK.In the last 10 years, the amount of people identifying themselves as vegan has rapidly risen by 360% to 542,000.

Fewtrell, a professor of Childhood Nutrition at UCL, warned that although vegan diets are perfectly healthy, they could cause serious health conditions in babies and toddlers if their parents don’t ensure they’re getting all the required vitamins.

Professor Fewtrell, who’s also chairman of the European Society for Paediatric Gastroenterology Hepatology and Nutrition (ESPGHAN) committee, said: €˜It’s difficult to make certain a healthier and balanced vegan diet in young infants, and parents should understand the serious consequences of failing to check out advice regarding supplementation of the diet.

€˜The risks to getting it wrong can include irreversible cognitive damage and, in the extreme, death.’

If children don’t get vital nutrients such as for instance vitamin B12, calcium, zinc and high-quality protein while growing up, it might cause €˜irreversible damage’for their nervous systems or malnutrition, she also warned.€˜Our advice is that when parents pursue a vegan diet for the youngster, they should seek and strictly follow medical and dietary advice to ensure their infant receives adequate nutrition,’ she continued.

€˜Both mother and infant should follow advice regarding supplementation.’Professor Fewtrell issued the warning in front of the meeting at the ESPGHAN annual meeting in Prague on Thursday.

Along with the warning about plant-based diets, she also stated that not enough protein can cause stunted growth, while an excessive amount of fibre could cause children to feel full too soon, stopping them getting enough other nutrients.Professor Myriam Van Winckel, who had been also because of speak at the conference, added: €˜The more restricted the dietary plan of the kid, the more the chance of deficiency and that is undoubtedly highest in vegan children.