A nutritionist shares the dangers of feeding babies almond milk

  • Pediatric nutritionist Marina Chaparro described the dangers of not feeding babies correctly.
  • You have seen a baby with ketoacidosis, a sign of starvation, due to a diet of almond milk.
  • Diluting baby formula can also lead to lethargy and life-threatening seizures, doctors say.

pediatric nutritionist Marina Chaparro I was working at a children’s hospital in Miami about five years ago when a baby was brought in with symptoms including weight loss and vomiting.

the baby had ketoacidosisa potentially fatal condition that occurs when the body begins to break down fatty acids for energy, releasing ketones and making the blood dangerously acidic.

At first, Chaparro and her medical colleagues, who worked in the pediatric endocrinology unit, thought the baby had type 1 diabetes, a common culprit in ketoacidosis.

But after a series of tests, providers discovered that the baby’s condition was not caused by diabetes, but by starvation: His mother was feeding him a diet of almond milk, presumably based on medically erroneous advice she had found. online.

Chaparro, who now runs her own bilingual child and family nutrition practiceShe said the story has stuck with her over the years because it illustrates the dangers of medical misinformation, something that has only become more widespread in recent years.

Nut milk is not a safe substitute for infant formula

Although nut milk can be integrated into the diet of most young children, it does not have adequate nutrients to replace breast milk or formula in babies younger than 1 year, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Neither is cow’s milk, or other non-dairy milk substitutes.

Baby formula is “very hard to redo, it’s very hard to get that balance that food scientists have been studying for years,” Chaparro said at a webinar hosted by the California Strawberry Commission. “Not to mention the risk of cross-contamination and infection” when making your own formula.

The baby’s mom “was doing the best she could,” Chaparro added, and probably thought that because the almond milk worked for her, it was good for her baby.

Chaparro said the baby did well and was released after a few days of being fed a suitable formula.

But the experience made Chaparro realize “how deeply embedded in our culture these messages about diet sometimes get, and we listen to them and sometimes translate them to our children and our families,” he said. “That’s the case, I’m like, ‘This could be really dangerous.'”

Doctors say diluting the formula can also be dangerous

Other parents have turned to Internet recipes for home formula more recently, in light of the last year’s formula shortage.

Dr. Owais Durrani, East Texas ER Physician, formerly spoke to Insider about the consequences, such as lethargy and seizures, he witnessed firsthand.

In some cases, she said, parents watered down their formulas in an attempt to make them last longer, but that throws off the electrolyte balance, which can lead to low sodium levels in babies. That, in turn, can reduce the blood volume of babies, causing low blood pressure and life-threatening low levels of circulating oxygen.

“A formula is essentially as tightly regulated as any prescription drug when it comes to the ingredients in it to make sure a baby’s kidneys are developing, their liver, their electrolytes—everything else is in a very fine balance.” , said.

“They’re not as resilient as an adult who could be out in the sun for 12 hours and get dehydrated — we’ll still be fine for the most part, but for a baby, that’s not the case,” Durrani added. “Every electrolyte, every component, every mineral in that formula is very important.”

In the face of shortages, Durrani recommended parents switch to other available brands, if possible, or request formula samples from their pediatrician or local hospital.

“We’re here to help. We’re not going to turn away a starving baby from the emergency department. We’re going to make sure that when the baby is released, there’s some kind of plan in place,” Durrani said. “But please don’t use any of those other options because that can lead to life-threatening problems.”

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