Before the 1950s, some babies who were not breast-fed developed intermittent muscular spasms known as tetany. The cow’s milk formulas they were fed contained too much naturally occurring phosphorus, relative to human milk. The high phosphorus caused a drop in calcium in the bloodstream of these infants, resulting in tetany.
It was a pioneering Upstate pediatric endocrinologist, Lytt Gardner, MD, who recognized that all the babies needed were calcium gluconate supplements.
He received a hat tip recently from the Pediatric Endocrine Society. “His superb study published 65 years ago led to changes in formulas and the disappearance of the problem,” the society’s newsletter says, referencing Gardner’s study published in 1950 in the journal Pediatrics.
This article appears in the spring 2016 issue of Upstate Health magazine.