Breastfeeding is the most complete form of nutrition for infants. Feeding infants with plant-based formula milk can't be used to replace breast milk or even infant formula, experts warn. This came after an 11-month-old infant in Spain developed a rare case of scurvy after being fed with only almond milk.

The baby boy developed scurvy because the only food given to him was an almond-based formula milk that did not contain any vitamin C. When the infant was seen by a pediatrician, he lost a great amount of weight, was irritable and suffered fractures.

Scurvy is a serious and debilitating condition caused by vitamin C deficiency. Though this disease is already rare today, vitamin C deficiency can be dangerous to the developing baby in the womb and infants. This disease was first seen in sailors from the 16th to 18th century when they went to voyages without any source of vitamin C and perished from the condition.

In the report published [pdf] in the Journal Pediatrics, the researchers led by Dr. Isidro Vitoria of the Hospital Universitario y Politecnico La Fe in Valencia, Spain, detailed on the case of scurvy in the infant. The infant's mother reported that the child was fed formula milk early in his life but had an allergic reaction by 2.5 months.

A doctor suggested that they change his diet and he was fed a beverage containing almond milk, sesame powder, almond flour and cereal mixture. This diet lacked essential vitamins and minerals specifically vitamin C.

The researchers found typical radiologic signs of scurvy including osteopenia, cortical thinning, Frankel line, Wimberger ring, fracture and periosteal reaction. His blood level of vitamin C was very low. To reverse the condition, the infant has started vitamin C and replacement therapy at a dose of 300 mg per day for three months. He was also fed with infant formula, meat, fruits, vegetables and cereals.

After three months of the treatment, his condition improved. The infant started walking and the researchers said that this case sheds light in the dangers of limiting the diet of infants especially during their first year of life.

"This case presents scurvy as a new and severe complication of improper use of almond beverage in the first year of life. Pediatricians and parents should be aware that plant-based beverages are not a complete food and they may not replace breastfeeding or infant formula," the researchers concluded.

Photo: Daniel Lobo | Flickr 

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