Monday, April 4, 2011

Vegan Parents Convicted of Causing Child's Death

Not a clear verdict, however:

"Joel and Sergine Le Moaligou, who fed the 11-month-old child on nothing but breast milk were accused of 'neglect or food deprivation' after ignoring their doctor and seeking advice in a 35-year-old book on alternative medicine.

"A judge sentenced both to five years in jail. However, they escaped prison after part of the sentence was suspended and the time they had served in custody was taken into account.

"State attorney, Anne-Laure Sandretto, had called for a 10-year sentence against the couple who were convinced they could cure their daughter's pneumonia with traditional remedies. She also suggested the mother's vegan diet could have contributed to the death of the child, though this was argued over by experts giving evidence in the case.

"'We are not here to judge their alternative life style but to decide if this man and this woman have shown a lack of care and caused the death of their child,' said Sandretto.

"She said the parents had been 'blind, and sure of being right' and that this conviction had overridden their love for their daughter.

Time has an article about this case (yes, they're still publishing, apparently):

"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."

So this leaves open the question as to cause.  Either 1) the vegan diet contributed to poor nutrition from mothers' milk; 2) Mother's milk is not sufficient nutrition at this age; 3) The parents failed to adequately treat an infection.  Most likely all three were factors.

The Time article includes this gem:

"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.'

That's simply moronic. Ah, medical professionals...

Follow-up to this post.