Scurvy is one of those diseases that are encountered extremely rarely in modern times, with the general opinion being that the illness has widely disappeared several centuries ago.
However, an 11-month old baby in Spain was diagnosed with scurvy due to all-almond milk diet, which caused a team of doctors to study the possible causes of the surprising diagnosis.
According to the study published in in the journal Pediatrics, this particular case of scurvy is a new example of severe complications that can result from “improper use of almond beverage in the first year of life.”
The authors of the study, doctors at Hospital Unversitari I Politecnic La Fe de Valencia, want to send out a warning signal for parents who restrict the baby’s diet to plant-based drinks. Beverages such as almond milk should be complementary to conventional breast milk and formula.
Caused mainly by a severe deficiency of vitamin C, scurvy is also known as the disease of the pirates in centuries past. Few people in the modern era are still diagnosed with the diseases, as it has never been totally eradicated.
Children and infants are particularly vulnerable to the illness if they are put on restrictive diets, such as the case of the Spanish baby and his almond milk diet.
Until he was two and half months of age, the baby in the study was fed cow milk-based formula, but he was switched to an almond milk diet after he started developing skin rashes. The doctor recommended 30 or more ounces a day of the new type of milk.
When the baby turned 6 months old, the parents wanted to introduce more solid food to his diet, but the infant refused to eat pureed vegetables and fruits. According to the doctor’s consult, he started showing “less interest in interacting” and being unstable in a sitting position.
In spite of his apparent good health, the boy was frequently tired and crying; at 11 months, the doctors diagnosed him with scurvy, finding a severe vitamin C deficiency and femur fractures.
According to experts, the consumption of plant-based beverages is not the only health risk factor toward infants developing scurvy.
American dietitian Andy Bellatti explained to the Washington Post that this case is clearly less about the almond milk’s being inadequacy, and more about the lack of formula or breast milk in the baby’s diet.
Image Source: Live Science