Did a Misguided Gluten-free Diet Kill Belgian Infant?

Did a Misguided Gluten-free Diet Kill Belgian Infant?


Two parents in face charges that their son died because they fed him an alternative gluten-free diet. Photo: CC–Dr Les (Leszek – Leslie) Sachs

Celiac.com 05/22/2017 – After their seven-month-old baby died weighing less than 10 pounds, a mother and father in Beveren, Belgium, are standing trial on charges that they starved the child by negligently providing an alternative gluten-free diet, with no medical supervision.

The couple, who ran a natural food store, put their son Lucas on an alternative gluten-free, lactose-free diet, which included quinoa milk, despite doctors describing it as unsuitable for developing infants.

According to child gastroenterologist Elisabeth De Greef, from the University Hospital of Brussels, feeding quinoa milk and other such foods to infants is absolutely wrong. She says that “These kinds of milk, which you can buy in a supermarket, do not contain the necessary proteins, minerals and vitamins. They are not adjusted to infants and thus unsuitable.”

Lucas’ mother said in a statement that “Lucas had an eating disorder. He got cramps when he was fed with a bottle and his parents tried out alternatives. Oat milk, rice milk, buckwheat milk, semolina milk, quinoa milk.” These are all products the couple sold at their store.

At the beginning of the trial, public prosecutors blamed the couple for their son’s death. Prosecutors claim that the couple made their “own diagnosis that their child was gluten intolerant and had a lactose allergy,” without any input from doctors. In fact, prosecutors allege that the couple kept the child away from doctors altogether. “Not a single doctor had a dossier about Lucas and child protection services did not know about them,” said the public prosecutor.

The infant’s diet, said prosecutors, “led to him being less than half the expected weight for a boy his age,” at the time of his death in June 6, 2014. An autopsy showed that Lucas’ stomach was totally empty at the time of his death. Prosecutors say the parents did not seek medical attention, even when Lucas was gasping for air in the days before he died.

When Lucas was in the final throes of starvation, and the parents finally did take action, prosecutors say that they compounded the child’s medical crisis by driving to a homeopathic doctor on the other side of the country, instead of going to the nearest hospital.

In their defense, Lucas’s father, claimed the couple never took Lucas to a doctor “because we never noticed anything unusual.” In fact, the parents believed Lucas had an eating problem, says the couple’s lawyer.

Under questioning, Lucas’ tearful mother said that the couple never “wished for the death of our son.” She also stated that Lucas [s]ometimes…gained a little weight, sometimes he lost a little.”

Yet according the public prosecutor the actions by the couple amount to “intentionally denying food” to the boy. For now, the trial in this tragic case continues, with a verdict set for June 14.

Read more: Metro.co.uk

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Jefferson Adams

Jefferson Adams is a freelance writer living in San Francisco. His poems, essays and photographs have appeared in Antioch Review, Blue Mesa Review, CALIBAN, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Huffington Post, the Mississippi Review, and Slate among others.

He is a member of both the National Writers Union, the International Federation of Journalists, and covers San Francisco Health News for Examiner.com.

View all articles by Jefferson Adams

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Published at Mon, 22 May 2017 15:30:00 +0000

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