Did Veganism and Alternative Medicine Kill Breast-Fed Baby?

Filed under: In The News, Breast-Feeding

veganism and breast-feeding

An 11-month-old baby's death in France was blamed on breast-feeding and the mother's vegan diet. Credit: Getty Images

Despite the increasing popularity of natural remedies in soothing many ailments, it's a good idea for parents to steer away from homeopathic and holistic health treatments in the care of babies and young children.

Just ask the French couple sentenced to five years in jail for refusing to take their sick and undernourished 11-month-old daughter to a hospital, and instead treating her with advice from a 35-year-old alternative medicine book, Time magazine reports.

The case, which has attracted considerable attention in Europe, serves as a reminder that homeopathic treatment alone is hardly the answer to every health woe, and, in some cases, may even be tantamount to child abuse, according to Time.

Joel and Sergine Le Moaligou were accused of "neglect or food deprivation" after their daughter died due to their failure to follow a doctor's advice. But they escaped actual jail time after their sentence was partly suspended, Time reports.

In 2008, two months before their baby Louise's death, the strict vegans brought their baby to a doctor. The doctor suspected pneumonia and directed the couple to get their daughter a chest X-ray. Instead, they returned home and followed recipes they found in books on natural medicine for mustard, garlic and clay poultices. The couple's alternative "bible" was "The Natural Guide to Childhood," written in 1972 by Jeanette Dextreit, Time reports.

Louise had been losing weight -- she wasn't even 13 pounds at nearly 1 year old, but her parents canceled an appointment with her doctor. She died about a week later. Prosecutors pointed to breast-feeding and the mother's vegan diet as the causes for the baby's death, Time reports.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends babies be nourished exclusively on breast milk for the first six months; solid foods are gradually introduced one by one after that. It would be highly unusual for an 11-month-old to be solely breast-fed, but even more so in France, where breast-feeding is the lowest of any Western nation, according to Time.

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.