A seven-month-old baby died weighing just 4kg after his parents, owners of a natural foods store, fed him an alternative gluten-free, lactose-free diet, a Belgian court has heard.
The mother and father, who ran a natural food store in the town of Beveren in Belgium, insisted on putting their son Lucas on an alternative diet that included quinoa milk, reports said – doctors warn that such a diet is generally unsuitable for such young children.
His diet led to him being less than half the expected weight for a boy his age, weighing 9.47lbs – just over the average weight for a new-born baby – before he died on 6 June 2014. Despite the baby gasping for air in the days leading to his death, the court heard that his parents never thought to seek medical attention. An autopsy showed he was dehydrated and his stomach was completely empty.
Public prosecutors in Belgium blamed the parents for their son’s death, saying: “The parents determined their own diagnosis that their child was gluten intolerant and had a lactose allergy. “Not a single doctor had a dossier about Lucas and child protection services did not know about them.”
The report says they also blamed the parents for driving to a homoeopathic doctor on the other side of the country when the baby was starving instead of going to the nearest hospital.
Defending themselves, Lucas’s father, named only as Peter S, said: “We never went with Lucas to a doctor because we never noticed anything unusual.” His mother, named only as Sandrina V, said in tears: “Sometimes he gained a little weight, sometimes he lost a little. We never wished for the death of our son.”
According to their lawyer Karine Van Meirvenne, the parents thought Lucas had an eating problem. “Lucas had an eating disorder. He got cramps when he was fed with a bottle and his parents tried out alternatives,” said Van Meirvenne. “Oat milk, rice milk, buckwheat milk, semolina milk, quinoa milk. All products which they also sell in their store.”
The report says that nutrition and medicine experts at Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School and Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health have recently found that gluten-free diet may do more harm than good, despite the fact that it has become increasingly popular among people who perceive it as healthy, with global sales up 12.6% last year.
The Independent report