Dietary choices questioned in trial over baby’s death

A trial in France over responsibility for the death of an 11-month-old girl in March 2008 has provoked questions about people’s dietary choices. The French parents are being prosecuted for “neglect or food deprivation followed by death” after their daughter died of complications from bronchitis.

Her parents treated her using only natural methods, from a book published in the 1950s.

Sergine Le Moaligou, the deceased baby’s mother, has been criticized for her vegan lifestyle, which may have been linked to her daughter’s death, according to the deputy state prosecutor. The baby was breastfed her whole life and had vitamin deficiencies that could have made her susceptible to the pneumopulmonary infection. The baby weighed just 5.7kg compared with the normal 8 to 11kg average for her age group.

France, famous for its meat dishes such as foie gras, steak, and various preparations of veal, provides few alternative options for vegetarians and vegans, argues a writer in the Guardian. The case has sparked a worldwide debate about whether the vegan diet is to blame in the baby’s death, or whether the parents simply should have taken medical advice from a qualified doctor.

Links to other sites: CTV, Guardian, France 3, TF1, The Week