BY Andrew Jose, The Western JournalJanuary 30, 2023
1 year ago

Baby Can't Stop Throwing Up and Losing Weight - After Inconclusive Tests, Doctors Finally Discover What His Mom Was Doing

Pediatric nutritionist Marina Chaparro warns mothers to be careful about the advice they hear about what to feed their children.

Chaparro is the founder of Nutrichicos, a bilingual nutrition practice based in Miami, and she is a nationally renowned dietitian and diabetes educator.

In an interview with Insider published Jan. 20, she recalled a time when she was working at a children's hospital in Miami and encountered a baby suffering from weight loss and vomiting.

Upon diagnosis, Chaparro discovered the baby suffered from ketoacidosis -- a metabolic state where one’s body breaks down fatty acids for energy.

"When fat is broken down, the body produces chemicals called ketones, which appear in the blood and urine," KidsHealth.org says. "High levels of ketones cause the blood to become more acidic. This is known as ketoacidosis (it's called diabetic ketoacidosis, or DKA, when uncontrolled diabetes is the cause).

"Ketoacidosis is a severe life-threatening condition requiring immediate treatment. Symptoms of ketoacidosis include nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, rapid breathing, and, in severe cases, unconsciousness."

The ketoacidosis from which the baby suffered appeared to be linked to type 1 diabetes, Chaparro told Insider. Unlike type 2 diabetes, which is linked to lifestyle choices, type 1 diabetes is a genetic condition.

In type 1 diabetes, ketoacidosis occurs when the body lacks sufficient insulin to use blood sugar for energy.

The doctors' initial conclusions, however, were challenged when they examined the child's condition further and realized he was not suffering from diabetes.

He was literally starving.

The child’s mother was feeding him almond milk, they learned, likely because of poor advice she'd read on the internet.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, cow’s milk and nut milk can be integrated as part of toddlers’ diets. However, they cannot entirely replace breast milk or formula for children since they lack vital nutrients.

The baby improved as soon as the mother started feeding him infant formula, and he was discharged a few days later.

Chaparro did not blame the mother, saying she "was doing the best she could."

The woman probably gave her baby almond milk believing that if it worked for her dietary needs, it could work for her baby.

Chaparro told Insider that the experience made her realize "how deep in our culture these diet messages sometimes come, and we listen to them and we sometimes translate them to our kids and our families."

When that happens, "this could be really dangerous," she said.

The Western Journal reached out to Chaparro with questions about this case but did not immediately receive a response.

The rise of alternative diets and their popularity among adults has raised concerns about whether they are suitable for children, especially infants.

In August, a Florida jury convicted 39-year-old mother Sheila O’Leary of first-degree murder, aggravated child abuse, aggravated child manslaughter, child abuse and two counts of child neglect.

According to prosecutors, O’Leary’s son Ezra was found severely malnourished and weighing a mere 17 pounds at the time of his death in September 2019.

In statements to the police, O’Leary and her husband said they fed their children a strict vegan diet consisting of raw fruit and vegetables. O’Leary also breastfed her son, according to the U.K.'s Independent.

This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

Written by: Andrew Jose, The Western Journal

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