Almond milk can trigger scurvy among babies, a study published on Monday, January 18 in the journal Pediatrics has shown.
Research was conducted in Spain, by Dr. Isidro Vitoria, at the University and Polytechnic Hospital La Fe, based in Valencia.
The analysis was actually a case study, involving a male baby who was eventually diagnosed with scurvy, after having been fed almond milk and mixtures containing almond flour throughout the first year of his life.
The child hadn’t been born prematurely and had received all the immunization he had required, and yet began experiencing health issues just a couple of months after birth.
More precisely, after having been relying on a cow’s milk based infant formula from the early beginning, the baby started showing a type of intolerance or allergic reaction to the proteins contained in this beverage (casein and whey).
The inflammation manifested itself through skin redness and swelling, and caused the little boy’s pediatrician to discontinue the previous meal plan, and instead prescribe the infant another type of nourishment.
The new beverage contained almond milk and almond flour, as well as other ingredients such as prebiotic and probiotic supplements, brown rice and brown rice syrup, sesame powder and millet.
Between the age of two and a half months and six months, the baby relied exclusively on this formula. When the child’s mother tried to introduce fruit and veggies purees also, as part of the offspring’s daily diet, she was met with reluctance and obstinacy, so almond drinks remained the only meals fed to the baby.
By the time the infant turned 11 months old, it was obvious that the almond milk nutrition plan had caused more harm than good.
The little boy was constantly drowsy and fussy, and had become unusually weak and frail. Despite having been able to sit up at the age of 7 months, he now had trouble keeping his balance, and couldn’t achieve a standing position on his own, bursting into tears whenever an adult attempted to budge his lower limbs.
Upon being taken once again to the doctor, the child was diagnosed with scurvy, after blood tests showed he had abnormally low levels of vitamin C (abscorbic acid), as well as a zinc and vitamin D deficiency.
Given that vitamin C regulates the production of collagen, which is vital not just for skin and blood vessels, but also for bones, tendons and ligaments, it wasn’t surprising when x-rays showed that the baby already had fractured bones in his thighs, and that his overall bone density had decreased significantly.
That’s when it was decided to abandon the almond milk diet altogether, and instead have the child consume a more traditional infant formula, alongside meat, wholegrain cereals, fruits, veggies, and vitamin C and D supplements.
After one month passed, it was determined following a new x-ray that the child’s once brittle bones had finally regained strength, and later it was also revealed that his vitamin levels had climbed back to normal.
Also, in just 2 months, the little boy’s condition had improved so significantly, that he was even capable of walking around on his own.
Now, study authors who have been looking into this case are warning mothers to avoid opting for almond milk and other plant-based drinks when feeding their babies, because such formulas may lack important nutrients that babies require for their adequate development.
Even though beverages of this kind tend to be enriched with certain vitamins and minerals, they seldom provide enough vitamin C, D, zinc, iron or calcium, because they are so heavily processed.
In order to have healthy muscles and bones, and avoid developing scurvy, newborns should have a vitamin C intake of approximately 50 to 60 milligrams per day.
Around 8 ounces of breast milk correspond to 11 mg of ascorbic acid, while substitutes such as baby formulas provide 10 to 30 mg of vitamin C in every 100-calorie dose.
Given the high nutritional value of breast milk, the American Academy of Pediatrics urges new moms to nurse their infants in the first half a year, and then gradually add solid foods into their daily diet.
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