A Belgian couple's decision to feed their baby an alternative diet turned out to be a deadly one. The parents, identified only as Peter, 34, and Sandrina, 30, are in court for the malnourishment of their 7-month-old baby, Lucas. The parents, who ran a natural food store, fed him a gluten-free and lactose-free diet.
Lucas died on June 6, 2014, weighing just nine pounds. According to the World Health Organization, the 50th percentile weight for male infants his age is about 18.5 pounds.
Local media reports say the autopsy showed Lucas's stomach was empty and he suffered from dehydration. Public prosecutors are blaming the parents for diagnosing their child as gluten intolerant with a lactose allergy, even though no doctor had a dossier about the baby. The alternative diet they fed him included quinoa milk, oat milk, rice milk, buckwheat milk and semolina milk.
Prosecutors also say the parents drove to a homeopathic doctor an hour's drive away instead of going to the nearest hospital. The practitioner immediately sent them to the hospital, where Lucas was pronounced dead.
The parents, who have three other kids, thought Lucas had an "eating problem."
"He got cramps when he was fed with a bottle and his parents tried out alternatives," said Karine Van Meirvenne, the parents' lawyer.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends infants be fed breast milk for the first 6 to 12 months. The only acceptable alternative is iron-fortified infant formula. Whole cow's milk and low-iron formulas not be used during the first year of life. The U.S. Department of Agriculture also has a child feeding guide based on age.
"Milk and dairy products are an important part of a young child's diet. They are a good source of energy and protein, and contain a wide range of vitamins and minerals, including calcium, which growing children and young people need to build healthy bones and teeth," says the U.K.'s National Health Service. "Babies under a year old should not be given condensed milk, evaporated milk, dried milk or any other drinks referred to as milk, such as rice, oat or almond drinks."
If you think your child may have an allergy, experts recommend you don't change his or her diet without consulting your physician first.