Celebrities, being human beings, often believe some wacky things. Gwyneth Paltrow thinks human negativity can change the structure of water, Russell Wilson believes a magical water he has invested in can protect him and other athletes from concussions, and so on.
The difference between a celebrity believing a crazy thing and a non-celebrity doing so, of course, is that people often — unfortunately — take their nutritional and lifestyle cues from celebrities. This can lead to really bad outcomes, and for a particularly disturbing example look no further than an infant-formula recipe embraced by reality star Kristin Cavallari and recently published by People magazine.
Hemant Mehta, a.k.a. the Friendly Atheist, has the full rundown: the People article, by Ana Calderone, which mentioned some of Cavallari’s wacky and dangerous health beliefs, including her opposition to childhood vaccination, originally printed Cavallari’s recipe for a “natural” infant formula that contains goats’-milk powder that she developed with her husband, Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler.
The problem is that pediatricians don’t recommend goats’ milk for babies under a year old, and the unpasteurized variety, as a Pediatrics article Mehta links to notes, has been associated with “severe electrolyte abnormalities, metabolic acidosis, megaloblastic anemia, allergic reactions including life-threatening anaphylactic shock, hemolytic uremic syndrome, and infections” when given to infants.
There’s a bit of ambiguity here as to whether Cavallari’s recipe used unpasteurized goats’ milk, which would likely be more dangerous for her kids — People yanked the article down and the recipe itself doesn’t appear to have survived into either of the cached versions Mehta links to. But either way, this episode highlights the danger of big outlets echoing these sorts of claims. Yes, Cavallari says to consult a pediatrician first, and yes, the article was responsible enough to quote a doctor saying he wouldn’t recommend the sorts of homemade formulas Cavallari is touting. But why draw this sort of attention to them at all? What’s the upside? This isn’t a fun lifestyle decision like what Cavallari wears or what she eats for dinner — the normal, lower-stakes stuff of celebrity coverage. This is the sort of decision that, if adopted by other parents, could put innocent babies at risk.
Cavallari, for her part, touted to People the fact that her formula is “real” and “organic.” Great. So’s poison ivy.