The infant suffered fractures in his back and legs as a result of vitamin C deficiency and cried whenever his legs were moved.
The diagnosis emerged in a case study published this week in the journal Pediatrics and highlights the dangers of restricting infants to plant-based only diets.
The infant was switched to an almond-based mixture at two and a half months of age after developing an allergic reaction to cow milk-based formula.
The mother had tried to introduce pureed fruit and vegetables when the child reached six months old but the baby refused anything but the almond milk bottle.
But at eleven months of age, the child was unable to stand on his legs and cried if someone tried to move them.
Doctors discovered that he had fractures in his femurs and suffered vitamin C deficiency and was diagnosed with scurvy, a disease best known for afflicting sailors who were deprived of fresh fruit and vegetables while on long sea voyages.
Doctors who treated the child at Valencia’s Hospital Universitari i Politècnic La Fe warned that the case served to underscore that “plant-based beverages are not a complete food”.
“This case presents scurvy as a new and severe complication of improper use of almond beverage in the first year of life,” the case study authors wrote.
“When plant-based beverages are the exclusive diet in the first year of life and not consumed as a supplement to formula or breastfeeding, it can result in severe nutritional problems.”