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A serious medical condition, found mostly in infants under six months of age (or in newborn animals), in which the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood is reduced as a result of a reation with nitrite ions (NO2-). These reactions change the healthy hemoglobin in the victim's blood to an inactive methemoglobin form. As a result of the higher pH conditions in the intestinal tract of infants and newborn animals, nitrate (NO3-) -- which is commonly consumed in food and water -- can be transformed into nitrite more readily than would occur in adults.