Doctors examining an 11-month-old baby who was cranky, wailed whenever someone tried to move his legs, and couldn't walk came up with a diagnosis that would've been more likely on an 18th-century ship than in a modern-day clinic. The infant in Spain had scurvy, caused by insufficient vitamin C, and it resulted from the baby consuming only an almond milk-based formula since he was about 3 months old, Live Science reports. The case, documented in the journal Pediatrics, reported that he suffered bone loss, thigh bone fractures, and very low levels of vitamin C. "This case demonstrates that scurvy is a new and severe complication of improper use of almond drinks in the first year of life," the researchers write. "Plant-based beverages are not a complete food and they may not replace breastfeeding or infant formula," they add.
A skin reaction when the baby was around 2.5 months old led a doctor to recommend the switch from a cow-milk formula to another diet. The infant's new staple: the almond formula, which Live Science describes as "almond milk, almond flour, sesame powder, and a creamy cereal mixture." The new formula didn't offer vitamin C, which infants need in doses of about 50mg a day—and which is found in breast milk, most baby formulas, and fruits and veggies. Once the baby was 6 months, the mom tried to rotate pureed fruits and veggies into his diet, but he wasn't interested, Live Science notes. Once he was diagnosed, he was pumped full of vitamins C and D—and his symptoms improved and he began to walk. "Before you change [a] child's diet, it needs to be changed to a nutritionally adequate diet," a pediatrician at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine tells ABC News. "This is too critical a period. Bottom line, stick to breast milk or formula." (This description of 18th-century sailors' scurvy depicts how awful the disease can be.)