A celebrity cookbook focused on a Paleo diet for babies has had its publication delayed over fears that the recipes may very well lead to the death of babies whose parents feed them the diet.
The Paleo diet has become popular in recent years. Often referred to as "the caveman diet," the premise is based on focusing on foods that our ancestors probably ate while eliminating food sources that would not have been available. Lean meats, nuts, berries, and green vegetables are the main source of nutrition while all grains, legumes, and dairy are completely absent from the diet.
It is the missing dairy that has caused a great deal of concern among health experts.
The book contains a homemade formula recipe that is comprised of chicken liver and bone broth. There are no milk products in the DIY formula recipe at all.
The book has been co-authored by Pete Evans, an Australian chef, author, and television personality, along Charlotte Carr, who writes a blog devoted to baby food recipes, and naturopath Helen Padarin. None of the three have medical qualifications, but it seems as though the three co-authors attempted to cover their lack of medical qualifications with a caveat at the back of the book, which is entitled Bubba Yum Yum: The Paleo Way For New Mums, Babies and Toddlers.
"Although we in good faith believe that the information provided will help you live a healthier life, relying on the information contained in this publication may not give you the results you desire or may cause negative health consequences."
However, Evans implies in the book's forward that following a Paleo diet may prevent autism, birth defects, behavioral and digestive disorders, rashes, and asthma.
But health officials aren't buying it, and their serious concern has, at the least, delayed release of the cookbook, which was scheduled for Friday, March 13, and at the most, completely canceled it. If canceled, the publishing company could stand to take a huge financial hit. Pete Evans is currently one of their best-selling authors.
Professor Heather Yeatman, president of the Publican Health Association of Australia, was clear in her criticism of the Paleo cookbook in an interview with Women's Weekly.
"In my view, there's a very real possibility that a baby may die if this book goes ahead. Especially if [the DIY formula] was the only food a parent was feeding their infant, it's a very real risk. And [I consider that] the baby's growth and development could be impaired."
In addition to containing no dairy, the cookbook's formula recipe contains 10 times the maximum safe daily intake of vitamin A for babies. An overdose of vitamin A could lead to loss of appetite, dry skin, hair loss, and bone pain, as well as causing fissures to form at the corners of an infant's mouth. The overdose can also lead to a failure to thrive.
Yeatman said that making the wrong decision when it comes to feeding an infant can have grave consequences.
"That's the really troubling thing: the infant is totally at the whim of their parents when it comes to feeding. If the wrong decision is made, they may be seriously affected."
The World Health Organization states that breastfeeding infants is the best way to provide nutrition, and that if breastfeeding is not possible, then infant formulas which have been designed based on research and evidence that shows it offers all the nutrients needed to help a baby grow and thrive is the only safe alternative.
Despite the fact that a Paleo diet may be completely inappropriate for infants and toddlers, many people swear by its health benefits and have had success in shedding pounds by following the high-protein, low-carb diet. To learn more, click here.
What do you think? Would you ever consider eliminating dairy from a baby's diet, or is it as dangerous as Australian health officials claim?
[Photo by Gaye Gerard / Getty Images]