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Naturopath jailed over starving baby case

In August 2016 we shared that a Sydney mother had been sentenced after she “failed to provide” for her infant son, after breastfeeding while on a raw food diet and almost killing him.

The woman, who cannot be identified, was placed on a raw food and water-only diet, which almost caused her baby boy to starve to death has been sentenced to a 14 month suspended jail term, 7 news report.

The woman had earlier pleaded guilty to failing to provide for her child.

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In court on Wednesday the prosecution alleged the woman chose to “blindly follow” the advice of Leppington naturopath Marilyn Bodnar after she was “desperate” to cure her son’s eczema.

It was alleged the naturopath told the woman the boy’s skin condition was “her fault” and convinced her to go on a restricted raw food diet.

The naturopath will face a committal hearing next week.

The court heard those close to the mother had warned her against the extreme diet and noticed her weight loss. It was alleged she did not listen to their advice.

In court Magistrate Guy said if the baby wasn’t taken to hospital in May, he would have died days later.

He told the court when the toddler was eventually taken to hospital he was “emancipated, eyes sunken” and “dehydrated”.

He called the mother’s behaviour “troubling” and “deeply concerning” that she did not see the warning signs.

UPDATE 25 August 2017

The Sydney naturopath has pleaded guilty to failing to provide the necessities of life and putting a baby’s life in danger, thanks to her alternative medical treatments, reports 9 news.

The eight-month-old was taken to Marilyn Bodnar’s home clinic in Leppington, in Sydney’s south west, suffering from eczema, but ended up extremely malnourished and close to death.

Ms Bodnar advised the mother, who we cannot name for legal reasons, to go on a raw food diet to subdue the skin condition.

Prosecutors tendered a revised indictment to the Downing Centre District Court on Friday, with a lesser charge of aiding and abetting the mother.

In front of a packed gallery, Ms Bodnar answered “guilty your honour”.

Court documents state Bodnar allegedly asked the mother, “Are you 100 per cent raw? You have to be 100 per cent raw if you want to see your son heal.”

When he developed a fever she went a step further, and allegedly told her to drink only water.

April 2018

A naturopath – who told a mother her baby vomiting was good for him – has been locked up after the baby almost died.

Marilyn Bodnar has been sent to prison for her role in the baby starvation case.

The 62 year- old seemed stunned and reluctant to leave as prison officers entered the courtroom to take her downstairs after she was given a 14 month jail sentence.

Bodnar will have to serve a minimum of seven months behind bars after Judge Peter Berman imposed the sentence, reports News.com.au.

He said it was a serious consideration to place a woman of her age in prison for the first time.

But he described her ongoing advice to a breastfeeding mother to continue on a raw food fast until “death was within a couple of days”away for her baby son as “highly criminal”.

Crown Prosecutor Tony McCarthy said that the community needed to be protected and that Bodnar had “a blind adherence to her own ideology of alternative medicine”.

“This blind allegiance was the cause of the child nearly dying,” he told the court.

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  • Why didn’t the Mum seek advise from a Dr. or Pharmacist. Some pharmacists recommend natural products, especially if you ask about them. The problem may have been as simple as the material the baby’s clothes were made from. It could even have been what was used in the water she bathed the baby in. I know of a small boy who lived in SA for awhile due to his Dad’s job. His problem was proved to be the water. In the cool weather he wasn’t washed or bathed as much and his skin was a lot better. They transferred back to NSW and his skin showed improvement within 3 weeks. His legs used to get so sore that sometimes he didn’t want to walk. Other times you couldn’t keep him still.

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  • So the mum got sentenced to a 14 month suspended jail term and the naturopath got 7 months behind bars ?! This amazes me. I regards the naturopath as more guilty !

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  • Should have gotten longer.

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  • Hopefully this will have a deterrent effect on other people who offer unproven advice as fact.

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  • People put far too much trust in “professionals” without questioning their advice.

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  • The naturopath should lose her license to practice her “not so medical skills”.

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  • It really concerns me that this baby could also have kidney damage which could have long lasting consequences.

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  • wow this woman is supposed to be a professional! i would only trust a doctor’s advice but this is a major breech of trust and so negligent!

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  • The naturopath should be struck off the register. What appalling advice.

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  • Poor baby. The naturopath surely offered a very extreme treatment!!

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  • Feel terrible for the totally innocent victim in this. Hopefully it makes other like minded naturopaths take note and not make the same mistakes/decisions.

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  • It seems a jail term would be appropriate here.

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  • I hope the baby was not impacted negatively by this poor advice.


    • This is my concern – development is so important and this sort of trauma may have a big impact – poor little one.

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  • Poor little one . I wish that her mum get the lesson

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  • The poor baby – I do hope it has not impacted on the development of the little one. I hope mum now receives the right information and support on how to care for her child including managing any conditions. As for the naturopath – I hope by pleading guilty and suffering the consequences she never does this again.

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