Q&A: too much beta-carotene turning a baby orange?

I'm lost in a world of toddler projectile vomit today, so here's a short funny one.

Karen writes:

"Is it normal for my 8 month old son's skin to turn orange if he has had any orange/yellow vegetables in the day? He will usually have orange-coloured cheeks and/or nose if he eats sweet potatoes, squash, carrots, apricots, yellow split peas, mango etc. The amount of these vegetables is not excessive (one or two servings for the day, such as sweet potatoes for lunch and squash for dinner). Is there such a thing as beta-carotene overload and is it harmful?"

Do you guys remember when Susan Dey was on The Partridge Family, and she went through that anorexic phase? She spent months eating nothing but carrots, and her skin turned orange. (Ah, wait. Wiki tells me that it was actually orthorexia nervosa, not anorexia nervosa. Who knew that the millions of women who eat two bags of baby carrots every day so they don't consume anything fattening actually had a named disorder?)

Here are some British people who ran an experiment to see if they could turn their skin orange by eating carrots. They could.

But back to Karen's son. This is pretty common, and even has a name, carotenemia (complete with an entry in Wikipedia.) It's harmless, and will go away when he stops eating so many orange things. if it's really bugging you, you could rotate in some foods of other colors. Or just don't worry about it and accept the compliments on his tan.

Update: Did you know there's a World Carrot Museum? Who knew? It's basically got everything you could ever want to know about carrots, including some amazing-sounding recipes.