Couple kept infant daughter on strict vegan diet, she became so malnourished that even 'normal handling' fractured her bones
The couple pleaded guilty to failing to provide for a child and causing serious injury after their daughter was found to have suffered from a host of developmental problems
An Australian couple who kept their infant daughter on a strict vegan diet, thus denying her the necessary nutrition for a healthy upbringing which resulted in her being heavily underdeveloped, has pleaded guilty to failing to provide for a child and causing serious injury.
According to the Daily Mail, the 32-year-old mother and the 34-year-old father, whose names have not been revealed for legal reasons, had their daughter on such a poor diet that she developed Rickets, a degenerative disease that softens and weakens bones in children caused by lack of vitamin D.
The 19-month-old girl's plight came to light when the parents took her to a hospital this past March after she suffered a seizure. It was found that she had "undetectable" levels of vitamin D in her body, which had resulted in the infant having fractures throughout her body. Doctors believed her bones were so brittle that they could have been broken by "normal handling."
It was here that the mother revealed to doctors that the entire family followed a vegan diet. She said she fed her daughter a cup of oats with rice milk and half a banana for breakfast, followed by a piece of toast with jam or peanut butter for lunch. Then for dinner, she said she offered the infant tofu, rice or potatoes but that because the girl was a "fussy eater," she was sometimes given oats again.
The diet meant the 19-month-old lacked several vital nutrients, including calcium, phosphate, vitamin B12, vitamin A, iron, zinc, and of course, vitamin D. A doctor who cared for the infant during her stay in the hospital said she was "floppy," and noted how despite being over 1.5 years old, she could neither crawl or speak. She also weighed just 4.9 kilos (10.8 pounds).
The Mail reports that the doctors initially respected the parents' wish to keep the girl on a vegan diet, but grew increasingly concerned for her welfare after the mother prohibited them from giving the infant soy because she believed it was full of "hormones."
Even as the girl was in hospital care, the parents are said to have been in denial that their daughter's lack of growth was a result of malnutrition.
Court documents state that when police were made aware of the situation and questioned the father on why he was not concerned that the infant was not developing, he said it was because he believed girls were different from boys and that he thought his daughter was "petite."
An investigation into the girl's medical history then revealed an absence of immunizations, follow-up checks, a medicare number, or even a birth certificate.
The parents were subsequently charged, and after pleading guilty to failing to provide for a child and causing serious injury, have seen further charges of reckless grievous bodily harm withdrawn. They are scheduled to be sentenced at Sydney's Downing Center District Court on January 16.
As for the infant, she was placed in foster care along with her two older brothers, aged four and six. She is said to be doing much better and has reportedly gained six kilos in the last six months. She is also now crawling and standing on her own, though doctors have said it's "imperative" she continues therapy and be monitored constantly to manage developmental delays.