Babies fed homemade alkaline diet formula hospitalized with rickets, brain damage

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently published a report that three infants in

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently published a report that three infants in three states were hospitalized after being fed a homemade formula based on the alkaline diet.

The CDC said the incidents occurred between August 2020 and February 2021 in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware.

The infants had been fed “a nutritionally deficient homemade formula based on alkaline diet recipes, with resultant severe hypocalcemia and vitamin D–deficient rickets. Homemade infant formulas and vegan diets might be deficient in essential vitamins and nutrients as has been reported for other formulas.”

The CDC discovered the first 9-month-old boy had a protruding forehead, inability to sit without help and delays in his gross and fine motor skills.

The infant was diagnosed with rickets and iodine deficiency after being fed a homemade formula made of coconut milk, dates and sea moss. After leaving the hospital, the infant was admitted to a long-term care facility.

Two cases were reported in January of this year.

A 5-month-old boy was diagnosed with rickets. His parents reported that when the boy was 3-months-old they were feeding him a “homemade formula made of coconut water, hemp seed hearts, dates, sea moss gel, and alkaline water. He received high-dose intravenous calcium and magnesium and was discharged home after being placed on a diet of commercial infant formula.”

Three days later, a 4-month-old boy was hospitalized with respiratory distress. He was unresponsive. He also was diagnosed with rickets. The CDC said the parents reported he “had been fed a homemade formula of sea moss (an intended iodine source), hemp seeds, and coconut water for approximately 1 month.”

“Each of these infants had been fed a homemade formula, reported by their parents as the alkaline diet. Recipes associated with this diet, several variations of which can be found online, show it lacks essential vitamins and micronutrients such as vitamin D, calcium, and iodine,” the CDC said.

Both the CDC and the Food and Drug Administration have issued warnings about the use of homemade formulas.

“These three cases highlight the potential for grave consequences. Parents should be cautioned to avoid this inappropriate substitute for breast milk or commercial infant formula that can cause hypovitaminosis D, hypocalcemic cardiorespiratory failure, and hypothyroidism, resulting in lasting harm and possibly death.

Human breast milk and commercial infant formula contain vitamins and micronutrients essential for growth and development. Infants fed an alternative diet can develop severe deficiencies and experience long-lasting developmental consequences. The Food and Drug Administration has advised parents and caregivers not to feed homemade formulas to infants, and guidance on choosing an infant formula is available from CDC.”

Business Insider this summer published a story about the alkaline diet and celebrities who endorse it.

“Experts say there is no scientific evidence behind the idea that alkaline foods are healthier than acidic ones,” Business Insider reported.