A malnourished seven-month-old baby from Belgium died weighing just 9lbs (4kg) after his parents fed him an alternate diet which included quinoa milk.
UPDATE 16 June
A Belgian court on Wednesday convicted the parents and gave them both a suspended six-month sentence because they failed to take adequate action to take care of baby Lucas, who died at seven months old with organs shrunk to half their size and without any fat around them, reports The Telegraph.
Judge Mieke Butstraen said the demise of the baby was “the result of the systematic offer of food that was not suitable.”
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The parents could still appeal the sentence, but the court said it already showed some leniency by giving the minimum six-month sentence.
“It is clear that the defendants have already been severely punished because they need to proceed with life in the knowledge that they are responsible for the death of their son, who they truly loved,” Butstraen said.
Previously on this story
The infants parents ran a natural food store in their home town near Antwerp, and their son’s diet, described by doctors as unsuitable, led to him being less than half the expected weight for a boy his age, reports Daily Mail.
An autopsy showed his stomach was totally empty and despite the baby gasping for air in the days leading to his death, the parents never thought to seek medical attention. A prayer card was found in his nappy.
The parents now face jail sentences, with Belgian prosecutors alleging they contributed to the death of the boy from dehydration and undernourishment.
Media in Belgium reported that the parents gave their child a gluten-free diet, which public prosecutor’s said contributed to the death of the baby.
The seven-month-old boy named Lucas was taken to Hospital Virga Jesse Ziekenhuis in the city of Hasselt on June 6, 2014 after 34-year-old father Peter S and 30-year-old mother Sandrina V went to visit a homeopathic doctor who urged them to seek immediate hospital care.
Lucas’ nappy contained a prayer card and the boy only weighed 9.47lbs (4.3 kg) and suffered from dehydration and malnutrition.
Doctors at the hospital in Hasselt could said the boy was dead on arrival and yesterday the trial against the parents started.
Public prosecutors – chasing an 18 month sentence for each parent – are saying they are to blame for the death of Lucas after they gave their baby the wrong food and compiled their own diet.
The parents, who run a natural food store in their hometown, fed their child on a special milk diet.
Even though Lucas lost a lot of weight and family friends said the boy looked dismal and was gasping for air, they never sought medical attention.
The public prosecutor said: ‘The parents determined their own diagnosis that their child was gluten intolerant and had a lactose allergy.
‘Not a single doctor had a dossier about Lucas and child protection services did not know about them.’
The prosecutors are blaming the parents for driving to a homeopathic doctor on the other side of the country when the baby was starving instead of going to the nearest hospital.
In court, the parents defended themselves and the boy’s father Peter S said: ‘We never went with Lucas to a doctor because we never noticed anything unusual.’
Mother Sandrina V said in tears: ‘Sometimes he gained a little weight, sometimes he lost a little. We never wished for the death of our son.’
According to their lawyer Karine Van Meirvenne the parents thought Lucas had an eating problem.
Van Meirvenne said: ‘Lucas had an eating disorder. He got cramps when he was fed with a bottle and his parents tried out alternatives.
‘Oat milk, rice milk, buckwheat milk, semolina milk, quinoa milk. All products which they also sell in their store.’
Yet according the public prosecutor ‘this equals intentionally denying food’ to the boy.
According to child doctor Elisabeth De Greef from the University Hospital of Brussels, feeding quinoa milk and other such foods to infants is an absolute no-go.
She said: ‘These kinds of milk, which you can buy in a supermarket, do not contain the necessary proteins, minerals and vitamins.
‘They are not adjusted to infants and thus unsuitable.’
The trial continues.
Parenting and Child Health recommend if you think your child might have coeliac disease it is important not to start a gluten free diet until the diagnosis is made as it may make it harder to work out what is wrong.
It is important to know for sure if you or your child have coeliac disease as the diet needs to be lifelong.
- As long as people with coeliac disease do not eat foods containing gluten they feel quite normal and healthy.
- Coeliac disease happens in about one out of every 100 people in Australia but most people who have it do not know that they do. It can be inherited, that is it can run in families.
- Coeliac disease can start at any time after cereals containing gluten are given to a baby, often between 9 months and 2 years. (Rice cereal does not contain gluten.) It can also be found in older children or adults.
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