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2 Bumps

Neglect? Child endangerment? Or a parents right to choose?

Situation: A mother practices a strict vegan lifestyle, and decides to exclusively breast-feed for her child's first year of life. Because important vitamins are lacking from the mothers diet due to her food choices, the infant quickly becomes deficient in these vitamins. At 11 months of age the child dies due to extreme vitamin deficiency, and therefore a compromised immune system to fight infections. At the infants 6 month check-up it was suggested by the pediatrician the mother introduce vitamin supplements to the child's diet, but the mother decided against the recommendation due to religious beliefs on medical intervention, and her personal beliefs on diet. So is the mother legally to blame for her child's death? Technically the baby was not malnourished, she was fed regularly. However, the mother forced her lifestyle upon her infant, whose body clearly couldn't handle the lack of necessary vitamins.

A mother in France is being charged with neglect due to this very situation. And it made me think. Although I fully believe the mother should've made the choice to provide outside vitamin supplements since it was clear her daughter needed them, in this country we honor a parents religious beliefs when it comes to medical interventions. So was she within her rights to follow religious and dietary beliefs? Or did she step out into extreme, and therefore should be charged with neglect.

I personally agree with the neglect charge. I fully support her right to exclusively breast feed and follow her personal beliefs on diets, but when it was recommended she start her daughter on vitamin supplements, and she declined, I feel neglect/child endangerment came into play. And ultimately her baby girl paid the price on something that was very preventable.


Asked by Anonymous at 5:45 PM on Mar. 30, 2011 in Parenting Debate

This question is closed.
Answers (10)
  • The mother was warned about her child's failing nutrition and did nothing about it. At the very least this is neglect and the woman deserves to be punished for this. However, I can't imagine any worse punishment than knowing you are responsible for the death of your baby.

    Answer by scout_mom at 6:03 PM on Mar. 30, 2011

  • Her child had bronchitis and she didn't get her proper medical care and the child suffered for 2 months. That's straight up neglect. It has nothing to do with what she ate or her breastfeeding, the child suffered because she was sick and they neglected to get the proper care for her.

    Answer by Nanixh at 5:53 PM on Mar. 30, 2011

  • If our religion told us to beat our children daily, it would still be abuse in the eyes of the law. That baby was more than neglected, that baby died. It had to have been pretty serious.

    Answer by Musicmom80 at 5:52 PM on Mar. 30, 2011

  • Well if the child was sick and did not receive medical attention, then that's a whole diff story.

    Answer by Renee3K at 5:55 PM on Mar. 30, 2011

  • You CAN live a vegan lifestyle AND be healthy. If her doctor said the baby was lacking specific vitamins or minerals, then the mother should have done what she could within her beliefs to alter her diet. Hard to say. I think she was irresponsible because she didn't make the changes neccessary to give her child what was I guess neglect of some sort.

    Answer by Renee3K at 5:51 PM on Mar. 30, 2011

  • An informed individual adhering to a strict vegan diet does not go without proper nutrition.... just as a meat eater can (and often is) lacking because of their decisions.

    There is so much more to this than a vegan lifestyle and breastfeeding. I wonder now, why you're not posting about the 18 year old mother who mixed her 2 month old infant's formula with gin. Is it because it was a normal, fat, meat eating american who ff?

    Answer by ObbyDobbie at 5:56 PM on Mar. 30, 2011

  • Got a link? What vegans don't eat that most other people do is just meats, eggs, and dairy. Eggs and dairy are NOT essential to human nutrition. Meat is debatable. So I have a hard time believing that a mom just not eating these things is enough to not sustain her baby. Human diets (including vegan ones) are meant to have variety. We get the majority of our important nutrients from different plant sources. Fruits, veggies, nuts, berries, grains, etc. You can only lack so many things by not eating meat because meat only has so many nutrients (although they are a good source of what they do have). Mom was eating and baby was eating. Exclusive breastfeeding for a year is perfectly healthy and often recommended. My daughter had nothing but breast milk for about 11 months and took solids slowly from there. Are we certain this child died from vitamin deficiency? Doesn't sound right to me.

    Answer by jus1jess at 6:03 PM on Mar. 30, 2011

  • This sounds similar to the youtube news story about a mom who over diluted babys formula. baby ended up in hospital and mom just didn't know.

    when what you believe (medical intervention bad for example) hurts your child strong investigation and/or removal of child should take place. Stronger education of mothers needs to happen. My strongest belief is that not all mother CAN be mommies.

    Answer by Audrice1985 at 6:17 PM on Mar. 30, 2011

  • I wonder now, why you're not posting about the 18 year old mother who mixed her 2 month old infant's formula with gin. Is it because it was a normal, fat, meat eating american who ff?

    No, it was because I didn't read the story and I don't comment here on every single news article that makes it into our media. If you read my question you would have noticed I stated I have no issue with her choice to breast feed (good for her) OR her choice to indulge in the vegan lifestyle (again, good for her) What I had an issue with was her blatant disregard to dr.'s telling her her child was severely lacking vitamins, and her do nothing approach which resulted in her child's death. Before jumping to conclusions Obie, read my statements. And by the way, not every meat eating American is fat, why it was necessary for you to write this I don't know, but please stop starting drama. Thanks :)

    Comment by Anonymous (original poster) at 6:31 PM on Mar. 30, 2011

  • where did this story come from? is there any fact to support it?

    Answer by ItsMe89 at 5:56 PM on Mar. 30, 2011