A mother and father have been spared jail after allowing their baby daughter to become severely malnourished on a vegan diet.
The Australian man and woman, 35 and 33, were charged after their daughter had a seizure and was admitted to Sydney Children’s Hospital in March last year.
According to ABC News, for the first 19 months of her life the child was fed a “conservative vegan diet”, suffered from rickets – a condition that affects bone development in children – and missed key developmental milestones, the judge said.
The parents, who have two other children, fed their baby oats with olive oil, rice milk, vegetables, rice, potatoes and tofu.
As a snack they would give her a mouthful of fruit or two sultanas.
Medical examinations revealed she had several severe deficiencies as well as osteopenia – thinning of the bones.
Doctors said her bones had not developed since birth.
Her parents, who cannot be named for legal reasons, pleaded guilty in December to failing to provide for a child, causing danger or serious injury.
They wept in court as district judge Sarah Huggett described the baby’s condition as a result of her “completely inadequate” diet.
“It is the responsibility of every parent to ensure the diet they choose to provide to their children.. is one that is balanced and contains sufficient essential nutrients for optimal growth,” Ms Huggett said.
She sentenced them to an 18-month intensive corrections order and 300 hours of community service.
Through a victim impact statement, a foster carer who first met the girl when she was aged 19 months told the court she looked like a three-month-old baby, weighing only 4.89kg and had no teeth.
A psychiatrist did not believe the mother’s lack of care for the child was due to postnatal depression, but a doctor believed she showed other symptoms consistent with major depression.
Ms Huggett accepted the woman was suffering from depression which reduced her moral culpability to some extent.
The girl is now being cared for by other family members and both parents have supervised access to the children.