Alternative baby food parents stand trial

A father and a mother from the East Flemish municipality of Beveren risk one and a half years in prison after their baby died of dehydration and malnutrition. The couple had fed their baby on alternative baby foods made out of oats and quinoa and buckwheat milk.

When their child started to be violently sick after drinking a bottle of buckwheat milk they visited a homeopathic medicine specialist who told them to take the baby to hospital straight away. The child died in A&E. The 7 month old baby boy weighed just 4.3 kilos, half of what he should have weighed.

A pathologists’ report states that the baby died on 6 June 2014 as a result of dehydration and chronic malnutrition. His parents, the proprietors of an alternative health food shop, had fed the infant on alternative baby foods made of corn milk, rice milk, oat milk, quinoa milk and buckwheat milk. The baby’s mother claimed that this was because her baby was gluten and lactose intolerant.

In court, the Judicial Authorities compared giving the child alternative baby food with deliberately refusing to feed him. The Public Prosecutor added that he didn’t understand why the parents first took their baby to a homeopath rather than to A&E. The parents are standing trial for deliberately refusing to feed their child resulting in his death. They risk 18 months in gaol.

The couple’s barrister Karine Van Meirvenne wants them to be discharged. She says that while it is true that the baby died of malnutrition, she disputes whether the deliberately malnourished their baby. A court in Dendermonde (East Flanders) will rule on the case on 14 June.

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