A vegan couple has been arrested on charges that they nearly starved their newborn baby nearly to death. The couple is accused of feeding him only “milk formula” that was made from potatoes.
Police said 20-year-old Julia French and 31-year-old Robert Buskey failed to properly feed the 5-month-old baby, who was rescued by officials in Florida. The child only weighed 8 pounds 8 ounces — a full pound less than he did at birth. As the New York Post reported, the baby was taken to a hospital to recover, and the parents were brought to the Brevard County Jail on neglect charges.
Court documents said that the parents came under investigation after the Department of Children and Families noticed that the child appeared emaciated, with sunken eyes and protruding ribs. The baby was also frequently sleepy and dehydrated, leading to erratic temperatures.
Police said the parents were feeding the infant only a “mash” of potatoes that failed to offer the proper nutrition, which left the baby on the verge of death.
“I’ve never seen a child to this level, this close to possible death,” said Detective Lauren Watson. “At one point, when the child was doing good and healthy, and gaining weight, he was on organic formula [but] they changed it on their own.”
This is not the only case of vegan parents being arrested for failing to properly feed an infant. In Belgium, a 7-month-old baby died after being fed only a mix of vegetable milk. As Newsweek reported, the baby’s parents were convicted of failing to care for their child and for ignoring a number of warning signs. At the time of the baby’s death, he weighed just nine pounds, well below the expected weight for an infant of that age.
The parents also failed to seek medical attention when their baby was struggling to breathe in the days before his death. A medical examiner said that the infant’s stomach was completely empty at the time of his death and that his organs had shrunk to half their usual size.
Experts say the first several months of a baby’s life are some of the most critical for development, and that a lack of proper nutrition during this period can have long-term developmental effects.
In Florida, the baby taken from his vegan parents is reportedly recovering and has already gained weight after being changed to traditional formula. The parents have been charged with neglect, and police say they could face further charges.