BEVEREN, BELGIUM — A Belgian court has convicted two parents in connection with the death of their seven-month-old baby after they allegedly fed him an “alternative” gluten-free, lactose-free diet.
Baby Lucas died weighing just nine pounds and suffered from malnutrition and dehydration, according to The Independent. An autopsy showed that his stomach was completely empty. But his parents, identified only as Peter S and Sandrina V, avoided jail time.
They were given suspended six-month sentences after a judge determined that they failed to adequately care for Lucas, who died with organs shrunk to half their size and without any fat around them. Judge Mieke Butstraen said Lucas died due to “the result of the systematic offer of food which was not suitable.”
Peter and Sandrina ran a natural-food store, and were attempting to feed their son an “alternative” diet that reportedly included quinoa milk. They did this even though doctors had warned that such a diet is generally unsuitable for such young children.
The court heard that Lucas’ parents failed to seek medical attention despite the baby gasping for air in the days before his death. They also drove Lucas to a homeopathic doctor on the other side of the country when he was starving instead of going to a nearby hospital.
Public prosecutors in Belgium said that Lucas’ parents determined on their own that their baby was gluten intolerant and had a lactose allergy. Prosecutors say that, “Not a single doctor had a dossier about Lucas.”
Peter claimed that they “never noticed anything unusual,” and Sandrina insisted that they “never wished for the death of our son.”
The case and the plight of the parents, who could still appeal their sentence, has ignited a national debate about parents’ use of alternative medicine in raising their children.
Main photo: Baby [Pixabay]