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Vegans Charged With Starving Their Baby

By Madeline Holler |

vegan diet, breastfeeding

Couple charged with food deprivation after their exclusively breastfed 11-month-old dies.

When baby girl Louise suddenly became listless, her parents Sergine and Joel Le Maoligou called an ambulance to their home. Louise died before help could arrive, but paramedics — noting the girl was pale and thin — called police.

A doctor refused to issue a death certificate for the girl until an autopsy could be performed. Her cause of death was eventually attributed to a pneumonia-related illness. A postmortem report noted that the 11-month-old, who had been fed only her mother’s breast milk, weighed only 5.7 kg and was deficient in Vitamins A and B12 — essential nutrients for fighting infections.

Eventually, the French couple living outside of Paris were charged with “neglect or food deprivation followed by death.” Though prosecutors are trying hard not to implicate the couple due to their lifestyle — they also ran an organic food store — medical experts told the court that the mother’s eating philosophy, which forbid animal products, could have contributed to her daughter’s death.

It’s interesting that the couple is being charged with food deprivation. I’ve known of a number of babies who were mostly breastfed, even up to 11 months.  Also, 5.7 kg — which is 12.5 pounds — isn’t at all an unheard of size at that age, especially depending on the baby’s birth weight.

What I think is more of a concern than the parents diet is the fact that the girl was diagnosed with bronchitis at her 9-month check-up and that she had been losing weight — probably from a loss of appetite, not from the withholding of solid, B12-rich foods. Instead of standard medical treatment, the parents tried homeopathic ones. That’s not always a bad thing, but the cabbage leaves, mustard and clay didn’t help their girl. Pharmaceuticals could have.

Through a lawyer, Louise’s father says the couple is now aware of the mistakes they made. If convicted, the couple face 30 years in jail. They have a 13-year-old daughter.


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About Madeline Holler


Madeline Holler

Madeline Holler is a writer, journalist, and blogger. She has written for Babble since the site launched in 2006. Her writing has appeared in various other publications both online and in print, including Salon and True/Slant (now Forbes). A native of the Midwest, Madeline lives, writes, and parents in Southern California, where she's raising two daughters and a son. Read bio and latest posts → Read Madeline's latest posts →

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0 thoughts on “Vegans Charged With Starving Their Baby

  1. Ben says:

    Perhaps I take this too personally, as I am the father of a child who was diagnosed with failure-to-thrive. (He’s doing better now, thanks to having his problem diagnosed and dealt with.)

    The article you sourced says that at the 9 mo. appointment, the baby was losing weight, and the parents were told to take their child to the hospital. They declined.

    That is abusing their child and, for it, I have no problem with their being sent up the river.

    You write that you’ve “known of a number of babies who were mostly breastfed, even up to 11 months. Also, 5.7 kg — which is 12.5 pounds — isn’t at all an unheard of size at that age.” Sure — babies come in all sizes and all growth rates. But the LOSING weight across successive doctor visits should set off alarms, no matter what percentile the kid is.

    Cabbage leaves, mustard, clay — do whatever the hell you want with your kid if it isn’t toxic. They can make fun of you later. But accept that homeopathy is pseudoscience and at a certain point you need to see a pediatrician.

    I decided to become a vegetarian at age 13. but I was able to make that choice because my parents had me fed, vaccinated, and taken care of by doctors up until that point.

  2. Jessie says:

    This is so sad and incredibly unfortunate. These parents were trying to do what they thought was the right thing to do and didn’t quite get it right. Extremist? Maybe. Negligent? Doesn’t sound like it. They just tried the wrong things, from what it sounds like.

  3. MsFortune says:

    They killed their kid with their new-age nuttery. I don’t have any sympathy for them.

  4. GP says:

    I think they’ve suffered enough. Funny to see how much sympathy the people who left their babies in car seats all day who died got (Wash Post article a couple years ago…Google it) versus these folks? Sometimes bad things happen to good people.

  5. Allie says:

    I think this comes down to intent for me; they didn’t intentionally hurt their child. It seems to me that these parents loved their child, and made what they thought were the right health decisions for her. If a doctor told me to take my child to the hospital, I’d go immediately. But that’s because I put my faith in mainstream medicine; this couple didn’t. And because this wasn’t some twisted couple who intentionally starved their child, I agree with GP that they’ve already suffered enough by losing their child.

  6. April says:

    I am left wondering what the doctors concluded at each of the child’s appointments? If (s)he felt that it was an issue, wouldn’t they have called the police?

  7. The Crack Emcee says:

    Throw the book at them. And make it the biggest one you can find. We keep telling these cultists to stop this nonsense, but no, they’re defiant until it happens – they know better – there’s a female-oriented “alternative” medicine made of water that works fine (even for malaria and AIDS in Africa) but, after 200 years, it just hasn’t made it to being “medicine” yet. Sure, it made it as Nazi “science” and, now, NewAge “science” but – except for at Whole Foods – no where else.

    Well, I’ve seen too many deaths to have any sympathy for anyone involved in it and want all of them to be made examples of until the spell is broken and the message is clear:

    You will live in reality, or die in it, but you will stop taking others with you.

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