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.