Kaayla T. Daniel
The Healthy Home Economist
Sat, 09 Mar 2013 08:52 CST
A 12 year old girl raised on a strict vegan diet was admitted to the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Glasgow, Scotland, suffering from a severe form of rickets. The girl had already experienced multiple fractures and been diagnosed with a degenerated spine comparable to that of an unhealthy 80-year-old woman.
Fox News reports the hospital doctors are under pressure to report the couple to police and social workers. Dr. Faisal Ahmed, a pediatrician treating the child, declined to discuss specifics, but allowed the dangers of forcing children to follow a strict vegan diet need to be publicized.
If raised strictly vegan, the child would almost certainly have severe deficiencies of Vitamins A and D, both of which are essential bone nutrients that can only be obtained from animal products. In all likelihood, she would also be lacking needed calcium, zinc, B-12 as well as other B vitamins, Vitamin K, the EPA and DHA fatty acids and the sulfur containing amino acids methionine and cysteine.
Although the human body is theoretically capable of converting beta carotene into true Vitamin A, children are not able to do so efficiently if at all. Sunlight could have provided Vitamin D but only if the family lived outdoors in the tropics and not in a northern clime like Scotland.
Other Cases of Child Vegans Suffering Severe Nutritional Deficiencies
Sadly, this is not the first time vegans have been accused of child abuse though it may be the first case involving crippling bone damage. More typically, vegan babies end up in hospital from malnutrition caused by the use of soy milk instead of infant formula. Given soy milk alone, babies end up with severe vitamin, mineral, fatty acid and amino acid deficiencies, which is why soy formula manufacturers are required by law to add methionine and other nutrients that are critical for a baby’s growth.
In 1990, the FDA investigated after a two month old girl in California was hospitalized with severe malnutrition. Her parents had fed her EdenSoy brand soy milk instead of infant formula. Because of this and a similar incident in Arkansas involving the SoyMoo brand of soy milk, the FDA issued a warning on June 13, 1990. Since then, most brands of soy milk – but not EdenSoy – include warning labels in tiny print on their packages.
Clearly, voluntary warning labels have not been enough, and there have been deaths as well as hospitalizations of vegan babies fed soy milk. In May 2007, vegan parents in Atlanta were found guilty of the death of their six month old baby. To supplement the mother’s inadequate supply of breast milk the parents had fed their son soy milk and apple juice. The baby was only 3 1/2 pounds when he died of starvation in April 2004.
Other vegan parents have also been charged and found guilty, including a New York couple convicted of murder and a Florida couple of manslaughter. In London, two vegans received a sentence of three years’ community rehabilitation after they admitted starving their baby to death.
In 2011 in France, a vegan couple received a life sentence for the death of their 11 month old daughter. The baby, who was only 12.5 pounds at the time of her death, had been exclusively breast fed. An autopsy showed her to be not only severely underweight and malnourished but severely deficient in Vitamins A and B12. The mother had cared enough to breastfeed, but had an inadequate supply of poor quality milk because of the limitations of her diet and the depletion of her own nutritional stores because of pregnancy.
And now we have the tragic case of this 12 year old girl in Scotland. Although finally getting medical treatment, her prognosis remains grim.