An Italian toddler with vegan parents is recovering from severe, life-threatening malnutrition tonight. Reportedly, the 14-month-old boy was barely clinging to life when his grandparents took him to a hospital for treatment. The boy, whose vegan parents had allegedly fed him a strict vegan diet without supplementation, weighed only a little more than a newborn infant when he was examined at the hospital.
Fox News reports that Italian authorities have stripped the vegan parents of their custodial rights following their son’s hospitalization.
The Italian toddler’s name has not been released to the media; however, details regarding his medical condition have been made public. According to reports, the small child’s vegan parents allowed his malnutrition to become so severe that the 14-month-old’s calcium levels were only barely higher than necessary for his continued survival when he was admitted.
The toddler, so terribly malnourished by his vegan parents, has reportedly been admitted to a Milan hospital. Doctors at the medical facility are hesitant to criticize the parent’s nutritional plan for their child, acknowledging that parents often choose non-traditional diets for their children. However, the hospital’s director of pediatrics, Luca Bernardo, says that the toddler’s vegan parents should have been supplementing his vegan diet with both iron and calcium to ensure that the little boy received proper nutrition.
“It is not a problem to choose different or unusual kinds of nutrition, and we certainly do not want to enter into a discussion of the merits of the decision. But since birth, the baby should have had support in this case with calcium and iron.”
The child of the vegan parents, who have since lost custody, suffered from calcium levels so low that they caused him to suffer serious heart-related health problems. The malnutrition he suffered because of his vegan parents’ meal plans resulted in a congenital heart condition. The boy’s heart problem was so severe when he was brought to the hospital that physicians were forced to perform emergency surgery to save his life.
Physicians at the medical center, while hesitant to condemn “uncommon feeding regimens,” opted to speak out against the vegan parent’s dietary choices for their severely malnourished young son. Director Bernardo spoke to the media regarding the incident.
“This forces us to reflect on uncommon feeding regimes, even if in this case it was complicated by a cardiac malformation.”
In Italy, almost three percent of the population is reportedly vegan. This makes for a lot of vegan parents and children. Overall, relatively few children are reported to suffer from extreme health problems as a result of their vegan parents’ meal plans. However, in the last 18 months, four additional Italian children have reportedly been hospitalized because of their vegan parents’ dietary choices.
The Italian Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has never gone so far as to tell vegan and/or vegetarian parents in the country not to feed their children strict vegetarian and/or vegan diets. However, the group of scientists, doctors, and nutritionists does recommend that vegan and vegetarian parents always properly supplement their children’s vegan and/or vegetarian diets with calcium, iron, vitamin D, and vitamin B12.
The group further recommends that all vegan and vegetarian parents who opt to feed their children a strict vegan and/or vegetarian diet consult licensed dietitians to ensure that their children get the proper nutrition in their diets.
At this point, the Italian toddler’s future is up in the air. He is reported to be in the hospital recovering from his malnutrition and emergency heart surgery. How well he will recover from months of malnutrition as a result of his vegan parents’ improper nutrition remains to be seen.
It is possible that the Italian toddler’s grandparents will be given custody of the severely malnourished child, but a final determination in the case of the malnourished toddler of vegan parents has not yet been made.
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