Infants need about 50 to 60 mg of vitamin C per day, something they usually get from consuming a mother’s breast milk, regular baby formulas and/or adequate fruits and vegetables.
In a recent, rare, case in Spain, a baby didn’t get enough of the vital vitamin and ended up developing scurvy, once the illness of sailors deprived of fresh fruits and vegetables.
The painful outcome came about after the baby’s parents were advised to switch the child from consuming regular cow’s milk to drinking almond-based formula, due to a skin irritation that he had developed. As a result, the baby didn’t get his vitamin C and suffered significant bone loss, fractures in his thigh bone, and extremely low levels of vitamin C in his body.
Reports say that he was brought to doctors by his parents as he was irritable, losing weight and crying when others tried to move his legs.
“This case presents scurvy as a new and severe complication of improper use of almond beverage in the first year of life,” the researchers, from Hospital Universitario y Politécnico La Fe in Valencia, wrote in the Jan. 18 issue of the journal Pediatrics. “Pediatricians and parents should be aware that plant-based beverages are not a complete food and they may not replace breastfeeding or infant formula.”
In infants, scurvy is also sometimes referred to as Barlow’s disease. In addition to the symptoms above, older sufferers can often display initial signs of fatigue, followed by the formation of spots on the skin, usually around the thighs and legs, spongy gums, and bleeding from the body’s mucous membranes.
A person suffering from scurvy might look pale, and feel depressed, finding it hard to move, and in the most extreme cases, the deficiency results in open wounds, the loss of teeth, fever, and death from bleeding.
Thankfully this child’s case could be reversed with treatment in the hospital. The child was fed oral vitamin C and D, regular infant formula, cereals, meat, fruit and vegetables, and was energetic and walking, within a few months.