A vegan couple from Titusville, Florida, almost starved their five-month-old child after switching out his doctor-prescribed formula for an internet recipe that was made up of mashed potatoes.
Robert Buskey, 31, and Julia French, 20, were charged with neglect after investigators found the infant weighed only 8 pounds, 8 ounces, after being recorded at birth at 7 pounds, 9 ounces, WFTV news reported.
The Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) stated that the boy was malnourished, his ribs visible and eyes appearing sunken.
“At one point, when the child was doing good and healthy and gaining weight, he was on an organic formula and they changed it on their own,” said Lauren Watson, Titusville Police Detective.
“I’ve never seen a child to this level, this close to possible death.” Watson continued.
A person familiar with the investigation shared with WESH that French claims to be Buskey’s concubine under “Nazarite Hebrew” religious principles despite the couple being unmarried.
Allegedly, the couple ignored the type of formula that would fit with their vegan lifestyle ordered by their doctor.
They instead fed their infant a potato-based creation found by French on the internet.
The parents did not present a reason as to why they did not provide the prescribed formula for their child, despite being able to afford it, according to the police.
The infant, who is currently in DCF custody, has gained a half a pound on fluids alone since Wednesday.
According to court papers, the baby had been “lethargic and not crying,” when found and according to court papers, “had difficulties maintaining his temperature and sugar due to dehydration and malnourishment.”
Buskey appeared to contest the medical reports during booking in regards to his child.
Both Buskey and French are being held in Brevard County Jail.
Out of fear and not enough education on the matter, people have convinced parents that they should be concerned in regards to minimizing potential risks to their child when it comes to formula, according to the International Food Information Council Foundation.
And while their concerns may come from a place of good intentions, it can sometimes lead to dangerous outcomes.
Individuals as well as organization have endorsed homemade infant formula recipes posting them to the internet in hopes to avoid products containing ingredients produced with biotechnology.
But that being said, there are very serious food safety risks that far outweigh any perceived risk of food biotechnology.
These homemade formulas can lead to potentially serious consequences for babies as their are no nutritional analysis for the homemade recipes.
Consuming improper quantities of said nutrients can lead to poor growth well as development.
A few recipes call for the use of unpasteurized or raw milk — which raises the risk of E. coli, Listeria, Campylobacter spp, or Salmonella. All pathogens that can potentially cause serious health risks.
Connie Diekman, MEd, RD, CSSD, LD, a registered dietitian and director of nutrition at Washington University says:
“Consuming raw milk increases the potential risk of foodborne illness since the bacteria often found in milk have not been destroyed by pasteurization. Young children, pregnant women and those with compromised immune systems are especially at risk for getting sick when they consume raw milk. As a registered dietitian, I would discourage anyone from consuming raw milk.”
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) states that commercial infant formula is the “only safe source of food for nonbreastfed infants up to 6 months old and an important food source for nonbreastfed infants through their first year.”
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