A 32-year-old Swedish new mother developed a life-threatening condition after eating a low-carb, high-fat (LCHF) diet while breastfeeding, according to doctors.
The woman said she had been following the strict diet in order to lose baby weight, doctors wrote in the Journal of Medical Case Reports. The diet forced her to eat less than 20 grams of carbohydrates per day, which is equal to about one medium-sized potato, according to the Daily Mail.
She was breastfeeding her 10-month-old son while she was on this diet.
Although the woman lost about 9 pounds on the diet, she began to feel very sick. She was eventually admitted to the hospital, where several tests for ketoacidosis were performed. Ketoacidosis, normally seen in people with type 1 diabetes, is potentially life-threatening.
“If you have diabetes or are starving due to lack of carbohydrates, the body burns too much fat,” Dr. Magnus Ekelund, head of endocrinology at Helsingborg Hospital in Sweden, told the Daily Mail. “The waste products from that process are ketones. Ketones are acidic.”
Ekelund added that build up of ketones can lead to coma or death.
Following the diagnosis, the young mother was given small doses of human insulin. After three days, she was discharged.
According to Ekelund, this is the first case reported in medical literature of a non-diabetic patient suffering from ketoacidosis while lactating. However, it has been reported in other cases of extreme starvation.
“People should be aware of the potential danger of these kinds of diets, especially when breastfeeding or when the body is under any other kind of stress, such as when they are ill,” Ekelund said. “That’s the take-home message.”
Ekelund recommended that anyone on a low-carb diet go to the hospital if they feel nauseous or if their breath smells of acetone.