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This Baby Got Scurvy After Drinking Only Almond Milk

An 11-month-old baby developed scurvy—yup, the disease of pirates of yore—after being fed almond milk instead of breast milk or a cow-milk-based formula.
Photo via Flickr user Amazing Almonds

Poor almonds. Not long ago, they were the young Hollywood starlet of the food world—the "it" nut du jour. Lauded for their antioxidant properties. Praised for their panoply of vitamins. Sought after for their protein and the delightful health benefits they provide, per study after study. Until the world moved on, as is its wont. And not without first bashing the almond into the ground, as we do with things we've had enough of—like last year's hot young thing. First, almonds were blamed for causing the drought in California—or at the very least, exasperating the drought's effects. Then they were accused of wiping out the world's bees. To make things worse—or better, depending on your pro- or anti-almond perspective—an accusation was made that there are hardly any almonds in your almond milk, anyway.


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But just when you—and the Almond Board of California—think things couldn't get any worse, they do. We have just learned that babies should not be fed a diet of almond milk alone or they will get very, very sick. This latest story comes out of Spain. An 11-month-old baby developed scurvy—yup, the disease of pirates of yore—after being fed almond milk instead of breast milk or a cow-milk-based formula. Scurvy is a disease that results from a severe vitamin C deficiency—and guess what vitamin almond milk doesn't have? Scurvy is quite dangerous, and can result in fatigue, bleeding, bone fractures, and even death.

READ MORE: The California Almond Board Has Had Enough with the Almond Shaming

In a report published in the journal Pediatrics, researchers in Valencia, Spain reported that the baby in question was fed a diet of almond milk from the age of two-and-a-half months to the age of eleven months. Prior to that, he had been fed a cow's milk-based formula, but had a possible allergic reaction to it. His doctor suggested that the baby's diet be changed and recommended an almond-milk formula, which was enhanced with sesame powder, almond flour, and cereal. The result was not good. At 11 months of age, the baby showed signs of being tired, irritable, and failing to thrive. He refused to support his legs on a solid surface, and cried when an adult tried to move his legs for him. X-rays revealed fractures in the child's legs, back, and thinning of his bones. The doctors also found the baby had abnormally low levels of zinc, vitamin D, and ascorbic acid, or vitamin C. They diagnosed him with scurvy.

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Luckily for the little almond-sucking fellow, he was put on a new diet of cow-milk based formula, cereals, meat, fruits, and vegetables. This diet was supplemented with vitamin C and D replacement therapy. Two months later the little tyke had started walking. All his test results improved. In short, the almond disaster was thwarted. The moral of the story: A baby cannot subsist on almond milk alone. And as for almonds? They're hoping for a comeback sometime soon.