An 11 month old baby exclusively breastfed by a vegan mother has died and the parents are charged with neglect after an autopsy indicated the baby suffered from deficiencies in vitamin B12 and Vitamin A – both known to be critical to a child’s development.
Vegans have long been advised to take B12 supplements as long term veganism runs the huge risk of serious B12 deficiency as well as other nutrients only found in animal foods such as true Vitamin A. Beta carotene is not true vitamin A nor does it easily convert to adequate amounts of Vitamin A in the body.
While I’m not sure I favor charging the parents in this tragedy as it smacks of Big Brother far too much for my comfort level, it does communicate a clear message to other vegans: abstinence from all animal foods is a danger to one’s health and most particularly, your baby!
It also sends a clear message that what a breastfeeding Mother eats definitely DOES affect the quality of her breastmilk. Many breastfeeding advocates insist that breastmilk will include all a baby needs despite what the Mother eats, but clearly this is not the case.
Traditional cultures took great care to ensure that pregnant and breastfeeding mothers consumed ample amounts of animal foods rich in vitamins A, D, E, K and of course B12. These foods included grassfed butter, pastured eggs, liver, seafood, and fish eggs. Notice that none –NOT ONE of these traditionally sacred foods is plant based!
If you are pregnant and breastfeeding and would like to learn what foods will maximally support the health of your baby while nursing, please check this link for the complete listing of traditionally sacred foods for optimal fetal and baby development. These foods will also ensure the preservation of your own health during pregnancy and lactation which can easily deplete a Mother’s nutritional stores leaving her vulnerable to exhaustion.
*Update: The vegan parents whose baby died as described in this article were convicted by a French court to 5 years in prison.
Did Homeopathic Medicine, Breast-Feeding and Veganism Kill a Baby?
By Bonnie Rochman April 04, 2011
Alternative medicine is far more commonplace today than it was in the past. Herbs and natural remedies can, in many cases, be effective at soothing colds and addressing muscle aches and plenty of other ailments. But a verdict handed down last week by a French court is a reminder that homeopathic treatment alone is hardly the answer to every health woe. In some cases, it may even be tantamount to child abuse.
Last week, French couple Joel and Sergine Le Moaligou were sentenced to five years in prison for “neglect or food deprivation” after their 11-month-old daughter died due to their failure to follow a doctor’s advice. But due to a suspended sentence, they won’t end up spending any more time behind bars than they already have awaiting trial.
The couple, strict vegans, brought their baby, Louise, to a doctor in Jan. 2008, two months before her death. 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 their books on natural medicine for mustard, garlic and clay poultices. (More on Time.com: The Government’s Dietary Guidelines Get Guff From All Sides)
The couple’s alternative ‘bible’ was “The Natural Guide to Childhood,” written in 1972 by Jeanette Dextreit, 88, who defended her book in a video link to the court saying it had been written “a long time ago”, according to The Guardian.
“It was a book on (child)rearing not a book of treatment. I didn’t say to consult a doctor if the illness persisted because, for me, that was obvious,” she said.
Louise had been losing weight — she wasn’t even 13 pounds (5.9 kg) at nearly 1 year old — but her parents cancelled an appointment with her doctor. She died about a week later.
The case has attracted considerable attention in Europe, where proponents of both breast-feeding and veganism have rejected the connection made by state prosecutors between the breast-fed baby’s death and her mother’s diet, which was purged of all animal products including eggs and fish. (More on Time.com: Babies Who Start Solids Too Early More Likely To Be Obese)
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 moreso in France, where apparently breast-feeding is “something akin to drinking your own urine,” according to commentary from Fiachra Gibbons in The Guardian.
“As a gynaecologist reminded a friend of mine the day she confirmed her pregnancy,” Gibbons wrote, “Your breasts are for your husband, not your baby.”
Perhaps that’s why France’s breast-feeding rate is the lowest of any Western nation. A bestseller, The Conflict: The Woman and the Mother, portrays breast-feeding as a misogynistic practice that hobbles mothers by tying them down to “despotic, gluttonous babies who devour their mothers.” (More on Time.com: Breast-Feeding: It Takes a Village to Help Moms Succeed)
The French may be known for being romantics, but apparently not when it comes to babes-in-arms.
Honestly whether its the mal nutrition or the pneumonia that killed the baby, the stories do bring up a valid point. If you are going to exclusively breastfeed you should be educated and aware of what types of nutrients you need to be intaking to provide nutritious milk.