French Vegan Parents Charged With Death of Their Malnourished 11-Month Baby

A vegan couple in France has been charged with criminal neglect after the death of their 11-month-old daughter. Sergine and Joel Le Moaligou were charged after their daughter died from vitamin deficiency due to the fact that they only fed her mother’s milk. In a prior column, I wrote about the disparate treatment given parents who kill their children for religious reasons as opposed to non-religious neglect.

The parents are strict vegans that reject even eggs and cow’s milk. They only allowed her the breast milk of Sergine Moaligou, 37.

When emergency crews responded to their calls, the baby was already dead in their home in a small village called Saint-Maulvis. She weighed just 12.5 pounds. She was found to have a vitamin A and B12 deficiency.

The weight should have been a warning for the parents. However, it would be interesting in the criminal trial to hear from experts on non-vegan families. My understanding is that many babies receive mainly breast milk for the first six months or longer. This appears to be a problem with the lack of those vitamins in the mother’s milk. That makes for a challenging case.

The parents are charged with “neglect or food deprivation followed by death” and face up to 30 years in prison if convicted.

Source: Daily Mirror

32 thoughts on “French Vegan Parents Charged With Death of Their Malnourished 11-Month Baby”

  1. The problem here isn’t breastfeeding but the health of the mother and the incompetence of the parenting.

    Vegans over time lose essential minerals and vitamins and must take care to replenish them from dietary supplements. Even if these parents had weaned their child there is no suggestion that they would have known how to feed her healthily.

    When she contracted bronchitis and they refused to take her to hospital, that is where an alert health visitor, district nurse or doctor would have recommended the social services to consider intervening with an order against their wishes. At that point there was a clear case of imminent danger due to neglect.

  2. Since this is a legal blog, I would take it that the Professor’s post is regarding the legalities.

    As far as vegan being mentioned, you’d have to talk to the reporter at the Daily Mail, as indicated in the link below the Professor’s post. You state that veganism is a healthy which is fine, but perhaps this woman wasn’t ingesting the necessary requirements of vitamins, proteins, etc. No one knows, and as you said, not all the facts are in.

    Veganism could be in the police report; it could have been said by investigators. However, you seem to be of the mindset that veganism is being attacked – it is not. The parents were charged with “neglect or food deprivation followed by death”, not veganism.

  3. Are we discussing the journalistic merits of the reporting or legal? Why was Vegan mentioned? Why did they not say two blond parents? The writer is interjecting a bias where none should be. The Vegan diet has proven to he as healthy if not more healthy than the standard western diet. I agree the failure to gain weight should have alerted them to some type of problem. Why it did not sufficiently alert them to seek help is unknown with the facts presented.

  4. Gyges, That is exciting. My son was a little over three when my daughter was born. At first he was not to sure about her and told me to take her back to the doctor.

  5. “Also touched on in the blog is the general attack on families that want to nurse their infants with human breast milk.”

    As opposed to human milk from nonbreasts?

    As a complete aside, my wife recently watched a video in support of public breast feeding. Which is something I completely support. That said, as one of their arguments for propublic breast feeding they said it was “the most natural thing anyone can do.” I pointed out that pooping is just as natural, and nobody advocates doing that in public.

    Yes I said pooping, I’ve got a three year old. Anyway, it’s a fun word to say.

    Poop.

  6. “The failure to thrive and in this case death, is allegedly blamed on the parent’s diet. . . Also touched on in the blog is the general attack on families that want to nurse their infants with human breast milk.”

    Compare with . . .

    “A vegan couple in France has been charged with criminal neglect after the death of their 11-month-old daughter. Sergine and Joel Le Moaligou were charged after their daughter died from vitamin deficiency due to the fact that they only fed her mother’s milk.”

    They were not charged with being vegan. They were charged with criminal neglect. Not sufficiently feeding the child. Criminal neglect that led to malnutrition and death. Criminal neglect that is causally connected to feeding a child only mother’s milk when that was manifestly insufficient to maintain even a minimally standard weight for the child’s age.

    If the article is guilty of anything, it’s implying a correlation between veganism and the choice not to feed the child other foods – which may or may not be the motivation proper behind the decision to breast feed only. Correlation is not necessarily causation but you are addressing the implied correlation as it relates to motive: they didn’t feed the child other than breast feeding because they were vegan.

    If you want to talk motivation, they may have been simply lazy, too. Or too busy to bother preparing vegan baby food. Or playing the X-box. Or shooting heroin. Or gossiping about Charlie Sheen. Or waxing the dog. Only they and the truly psychic would know their actual motivation.

    The salient point is that they neglected the care of the child when faced with obvious evidence that something was wrong in the form of markedly sub-standard weight gain for her age. Negligence in care which resulted in death. This isn’t a capital murder charge. Ultimately, their motive is irrelevant. Their failure to take appropriate remedial action in the face of manifest evidence of a health problem is relevant.

  7. The failure to thrive and in this case death, is allegedly blamed on the parent’s diet. How newsworthy would this article have been if they ate the standard western diet? Infants die quite commonly and in nearly every case some form of nutritional deficiency is noted. Same is true for nearly every adult. The real issue is why the parents ignored the lack of gaining weight. (if they did)It is hard to believe in a modern society, they were unaware what was normal. (what did friends, family and neighbors do?) The general facts are lacking in the short space of the article. Many women do not produce enough milk to support an infant. Was this mother one of those and thought it was normal? Millions of people are vegan or close to it for either economical or religious reasons. It is an aberration in the western view and has been pegged as the cause. (at least for B12) Infants can die with b12 deficiency with the parents taking several times the recommended daily requirement. Also touched on in the blog is the general attack on families that want to nurse their infants with human breast milk.

  8. That’s odd, because I got the impression the thrust of this story was that these people – who happen to be Vegan – let their child die from malnutrition and that the vitamin deficiencies were secondary. The CDC data shows that an 11 month old girl should have a median weight of approximately 20 lbs. At 12.5 lbs., this child falls well below the bottom 3% at approximately 17 lbs.

    http://www.kidsgrowth.com/stages/growthcharts/GirlsWeight_0_36.gif

  9. Woosty’s The infant was underweight and should have been taken to a doctor by a reasonable person. If the parents where following a doctor’s supervision than the neglect is not the issue. Sadly, most people are not aware that most infants in 1st world countries ( maybe as high as 90%) have deficiencies in one or more nutrients. This is thought to be the reliance on too early introduction of inappropriate foods and absence or early termination of breast feeding. The digestive system of an infant is designed for maximum absorption of breast milk, which is the perfect food for the infant. Introduction of anything else may create a hazard. This is the most common source of food allergies. I believe the thrust of this blog story is the parents were pounced upon for having an alternative lifestyle.

  10. It is the position of the American Dietetic Association that appropriately planned vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diets, are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases. Well-planned vegetarian diets are appropriate for individuals during all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, and adolescence, and for athletes.

  11. so MichaelB….if you think it is most likely an absorption issue….and without more info…(ie; did the parents go to a doctor, was the mother ill, what were the other circumstances involved…) why do you say it is easy to see neglect? Is it not wise to look at intent before tossing out that term?

  12. Because of genetic and environmental factors, many young babies and toddlers died a hundred or so years ago.

    Genetic factors seem to me to be much the same now as then.

    The only environmental factor I find has changed very much over the past hundred years is increasingly dogmatic belief by many people in evolution while religiously denying the very mechanism whereby evolution demonstrably happens.

    But then, like everyone else, I am wrong about everything…

    Did the parents foresee, without error, the death of their baby as it happened?

    If not they did not foresee, without error, their baby’s death, then there was some valid reason why they did not so foresee it, and they are therefore innocent?

    Does failure to do the demonstrably impossible make for guilt?

  13. Easy to see neglect due to the weight. The cause however is not so clear. To have a Vit A and B12 deficiency to that scale would have effected the mother more. There are absorption issues that may be present regardless of diet. (ie. B12 deficiency is rarely a diet issue but an absorption issue usually due to lack of intrinsic factor in the stomach)

  14. I wrote about the disparate treatment given parents who kill their children for religious reasons as opposed to non-religious neglect.
    ———————————————
    Church is a state
    The State is revered as a church by some.

    At face value it does not look like simple neglect or willfull killing to me.


    so much more information is needed to judge this situation.

  15. SWM,

    I did not say there was not…..I am just glad I do not have to decide this type of case one way or the other….It is sad…You know that about as close as I get to being vegetarian is the lettuce, tomato, onion on my hamburger…..and hopefully the cow was too….so then I am vegetarian by Proxy….

  16. There are many vegan options to feed a baby such as fruits, vegetables and baby cereals with soy milk.

  17. This is a hard case….one that I am glad I don’t have to represent or decide as either Judge or Jury…rest little one…

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