The parents of a baby who almost starved to death after they raised her on a vegan diet have been jailed for three months in Sweden.
The 18-month-old was rushed to hospital in February in a critical condition. She was unresponsive and doctors said she was just hours from death.
Gothenburg District Court heard the little girl’s diet had consisted mainly of breast milk, brown rice and potatoes. On Thursday, the judge told her Swedish parents that this was negligent and had threatened their daughter’s life.
The girl spent three weeks being treated at Queen Silvia’s Children’s Hospital in Gothenburg, where medical staff said her condition was due to ‘prolonged starvation’ and was worse than anything they had seen previously. She was then placed in foster care, where she reportedly recovered well.
A statement from the court said: “According to their ideological belief that the daughter was a citizen of the world, her parents did not even report the birth to any authority, have her checked at a paediatric centre, or even weigh or measure her growth. Nor has the girl been vaccinated or examined by a doctor.”
The parents, who are also vegans, are said to call themselves ‘nomads’ and live with friends. Judge Per Norden said that while they had not intentionally harmed their daughter, he found some of their views ‘remarkable’ – especially those of the mother, who believed that with correct conditioning, people could survive without food or water.
Parents blamed ‘stomach bug’
The couple’s defence team argued the child’s condition was due to a stomach bug. Although her weight on arrival at hospital was comparable to an average six-month-old baby, lawyers said this was due to her naturally small size and recent five-day illness.
As well as each receiving a three-month jail sentence for gross negligence causing bodily harm, the couple was ordered to pay 60,000 kronor – around £4,930 – in damages to their daughter.
They will be allowed to spend eight weeks with their little girl under supervision at a care facility monitored by social services. The father was also sentenced for several minor crimes including drink-driving and drugs offences.