If you thought the only people who got scurvy were ship-stealing pirates, you'll be surprised that doctors in Spain just revealed a new case involving an infant with the 18th-century disease, which is caused by insufficient vitamin C.
According to the journal Pediatrics, the 11-month-old baby contracted scurvy after consuming only an almond-milk-based formula since he was just 3 months old. It was at that young age that the baby boy — who was never breastfed but first given a typical cow's-milk-based formula — developed a skin condition. His doctor at the time recommended a drastic switch in diet from the typical formula to one that consisted of almond milk, almond flour, a mixture of cereals and sesame powder, and probiotics.
Because this new formula didn't offer vitamin C, which infants need to thrive, the baby suffered bone degeneration and even fractures. Anytime anyone tried to move his legs, the infant wailed.
"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.
Once properly diagnosed, the baby's almond-based mixture was replaced with a new diet consisting of vitamins C and D supplements, formula, cereals, meat, fruit, and vegetables. His symptoms began to subside, and two months later, he began to walk.
The journal notes that modern food trends include plant-based drinks — including soy milk and rice products — as dairy-free alternatives, but while these are healthy options for adults, parents shouldn't assume the same goes for their children, newborns in particular.
"This is too critical a period," pediatrician Dr. Keith Ayoob told ABC News on the topic of vitamin C deficiency. "Bottom line, stick to breast milk or formula."