Vegan Mother Arrested After Allegedly Refusing To Bring Underweight and Dehydrated Newborn to Hospital

article-2669747-1F2026E800000578-539_634x786Sarah Anne Markham, 23, is facing charges of child neglect after she allegedly refused to take her newborn baby to a hospital despite the child being dehydrated and underweight. The police reported that the reason was that Markham is a vegan and objected to the formula prescribed by the doctors.

The arrest was triggered by a report from a pediatrician who told Markham that her baby needed to be hospitalized for treatment to address the low weight and dehydration issues. Markham instead went home and then refused to open the door when police arrived. According to the police report, the officers proceeded to call a locksmith to enter the apartment where they found Markham who insisted that she wanted to get a second opinion form a “vegan doctor.” Police also report that Markham said that she would not give the formula/medicine that the doctor provided because she believed that some of ingredients came from animals. She is also quoted as saying that she purchased organic soy formula and, when asked by the officers how she knew that it was safe for a newborn, she allegedly said that if Whole Foods Market sells it then the formula doesn’t contain any animal parts and, therefore, must be safe.

While she agreed to take the baby to the hospital, police said that she waited an hour and was then placed under arrest. Her baby was placed into state custody.

The case could raise the question of where to draw the line between parental authority over nutrition and child welfare. Presumably, a child can be raised on a vegan diet and develop in a perfectly healthy way. The courts tend to accept the view of doctors when they concluded that a child is at risk. However, vegans insist that babies can be raised on a vegan diet. I would think that vegan parents have a legitimate objection for prescribed formula on the grounds that the product contains animal residue or ingredients — just as religious diets are given accommodation. In this case, the report of the hospital will be key to any prosecution and there could be a contest of experts on the degree of dehydration and underweight readings.

Source: ClickOrlando

121 thoughts on “Vegan Mother Arrested After Allegedly Refusing To Bring Underweight and Dehydrated Newborn to Hospital”

  1. Happypappies, that is not true that soy raises estrogen, at least to the extent claimed in this article. Soy could very well not raise estrogen at all too. i have heard that soy raises estrogen. have also heard that it lowers estrogen. have also heard that it regulates estrogen in that it will increase or decrease estrogen based on what that particular person’s body needs. It was said that regions of which consume soy tend to have lower rates of breast cancer which could only indicate the exact opposite. Whether soy raises, decreases, or regulates estrogen, it does not do any of them to any significant extent. The estrogen in soy is at least 1/1000 the potentcy of human estrogen. Soy is also said to have isoflavonoids of which are supposed to have positive effects on the metabloic system. Patrick Baboumian uses soy and he he set records in the world strongest man competitions in his weight class. there are also vegan bodybuilders that use soy. If soy does not absorb as much as other forms of protein, then that is an advantage considering that most people have at tendency to overeat at least a little bit. People can always eat more too. Perhaps this would mean that Sarah’s baby would get hungrier faster if this is true. I consume soy and it fills me up. I doubt it is indigestible to any serious extent. I have never heard that soy decreases absorbtion of nutrients to any serious extent, but i will look into that. Kristin Kirkpatrick is into nutrition and she says that soy is healthy and that were, up to date studies show that soy does not raise estrogen. Linda Melos is someone that embraces the old studies, at least when it comes to soy.

  2. Happypappies,
    Please read my post more carefully. You assume I support a vegan diet during pregnancy or while a woman is breastfeeding. I do not. I am well aware that animal products are the only way (without supplementation) to obtain adequate amounts of vitamin B12 (same goes for retinoic acid, which is vitamin A). I highly doubt that she would have been treated for micronutrient deficiencies at the hospital, since she is not the one going for treatment and a B12 deficiency was not the diagnosis by the pediatrician. She probably is deficient in it and other micronutrients but the diagnosis for the baby was dehydration and failure to gain weight.

    A B12 deficiency is all speculation on my part (but I am considering the data regarding vegan infants and pregnant women–see my previous posts). Yet, most of your assertions are complete speculation. You think she was willful and that’s it. You assume she is aware of the risks of a vegan diet by saying “willfully vegan”. Perhaps, and the article sure sounds that way, but unfortunately the questions I had in my previous post about the situation cannot be answered by you or the article alone.

    “She willfully did not follow the instructions the doctor set out.” Apparently you did not read my post very well. I do not disagree that she failed to follow his instructions to take the baby to the hospital; sure sounds like you think I do. I never once said that it was fine if she wanted to ignore his orders, nor did I say that the police or Child Protective Services behaved inappropriately. The baby needed to be taken to the hospital.

    You also seem to think that I think the pediatrician should have done lab work at his office. Not sure where you got that.

    “I just feel strongly about the baby, The baby comes first and these Vegan Mothers blow me away.” Sounds to me like you believe I am putting the mother’s needs over the baby’s needs. Please read my previous post again. I, too, have grave concerns about a vegan diet and do not think it is appropriate during pregnancy or while breastfeeding.

    Putting the baby first does not mean, however, forsaking the mother. If she is ignorant about the risks or has not received appropriate prenatal care, then she needs to be educated and treated.

    Some important questions to consider:
    Can multiple micronutrient/fatty acid deficiencies cause mental health problems?
    Could they be affecting her ability to think, act, and behave appropriately?

    The answer is yes.

    Shouldn’t such problems be addressed and treated?

    Being compassionate has nothing to do with absolving her of responsibility or putting her needs before the baby’s needs, it simply means addressing the mother’s needs, too.

  3. Only get vitamin B-12 from animals happypappies? Vitamin B-12 is fortified into vegan meat products of which you can easily purchase at the store. Fermented products such as soy has vitamin B-12. Not very much, but they do. Also, The dairy factory farms are cruel to the cows. The babies are taken away and put into crates where they live for months being stuck in there. When the cows are fed growth hormones, they have about a 25% chance of going lame. Their bodies literally can not hold their weight. This does not mean that the cows that don’t go lame are not in pain. The cows are not let outside very much if at all. They are not always stunned before being slaughtered.

    1. @Ryan Jansen Conspiracy theory’s by Peta are very nice but people have been drinking milk for centuries. Perhaps the larger farms need exposure but the smaller ones are not cruel because I have them around me in the midwest. Everything is bigger in Texas. Soy is not easily digestible which is why the baby is not getting B12 properly. the Doctor said so. He sent her to the Hospital. She ignored it and preferred to read commercial labels. Did you know that Soy can make Females infertile?

      Linda Melos, ND – Naturopathic Physician
      Natural healing and health care in Sequim, Washington

      She said she was going to go to a Vegan doctor. Well, this is what a Vegan Doctor says about Soy. She needs to stop being such a Know it all and killing her baby because of it in the meantime and stop worrying about the cruelty to the dairy animals and worry about her own cruelty to her baby.

  4. Above comment was to Prairie Rose and as far as Ryan Jansen Goes – that is an ignorant comment. Dairy Farmers take good care of their animals. That is ridiculous and you can’t get vitamin B 12 from Vegetables which is why your Baby was starving so go ahead and ignore it. There you go Prairie Rose – Proof – Positive she was going to be ignorant and just ignore reality by Ryan Jansen’s Comment.

  5. Sarah thought that she was making the right decision and did not think that her infant child desperately needed medical help. Most farms are very cruel to animals and factory farms especially. I purchase factory farm dairy even though I do not agree with them operating. The vegetarian diet is the healthiest diet in the world.

  6. And I have compassion because I have been in a similar situation, as well, except I did not know I was micronutrient deficient. I did not realize I was unwell because I was so unwell (and the first doctors I went to did not test me for micronutrient deficiencies, they just kept treating me for the surface symptoms). My baby was lucky to not suffer from my ill health, though the rest of my family had to deal with my unpleasant post-partum issues until they resolved following proper treatment.

    I bet her B12 levels (or other levels) were never tested by her regular doctor, OB or midwives–and they should have been! Did they assume a vegan diet for a pregnant woman was appropriate? Did they counsel her on the risks of a vegan diet? We don’t know; her medical history is not discussed.

    “And let me tell you, if the Doctor felt I was not taking care and the Police came and I was not taking care of them properly and there was no Family to take care of them, I certainly hope that someone would call Family Services.”

    Happypappies, you presume that I disagree that Family Services was called. I do not.

    “I keep coming back to the fact that she willfully ignored the fact that her diet was not good for the baby”

    Really? Where does it say that? The article only talks about the baby being dehydrated and losing weight, which is usually a breastfeeding concern. It doesn’t say anything about whether or not the pediatrician expressed concern about the vegan diet.

    Based on the single article cited in above, it sounds to me like she’s suffering some severe neurological (mental health) consequences of multiple micronutrient deficiencies. But, maybe she is just a garden variety narcissist, as you insist.

    However, there are too many unknowns, namely, her medical status, whether or not she was told by her doctors that a vegan diet requires a great deal of extra care during pregnancy and why (they certainly won’t say it’s risky since both the American Dietetic Association and the AAP say it’s fine so long as it’s well-planned), whether or not she was tested for deficiencies and/or prescribed B12 supplementation, etc.

    Do you think she should not be treated medically?

    I believe that the officers acted appropriately, as did her doctor. That said, I want her to receive appropriate medical care, as well. Most of the pubmed articles I’ve read about B12 deficient babies have indicated that the mother was also deficient (and that doesn’t even get into other micronutrient/fatty acid deficiencies that are very likely co-existing).

    1. If she would have gone to the emergency room as requested and the vitamin B12 levels were low on the baby and she was breast feeding, they would have taken care of her as well. the Doctor sent her to the hospital and did not care for her from his office because of legal issues that could have risen. That is in the realm of prescription drugs and Doing Lab Work up and so forth. If he is a Pediatrition it is possible and quite probable he did not have a lab there.

      Nice that you had a family. I did not. I was on my own and truly I was B12 deficient. And not because I was vegan. This woman was willfully Vegan and was not going to look for anything but a Vegan Doctor which are not AMA, I have talked to Dieticians since I wrote this letter and I found I am not blowing smoke that this, in fact is very true. You can only get B12 from Animal Protein, or eggs. Sympathy votes for the young woman is going to do no good. She willfully did not follow the instructions the doctor set out according to every article and they were all over the country, That was big news. Anyway, I don’t meant to harbor ill will about this I just feel strongly about the baby, The baby comes first and these Vegan Mothers blow me away. I am sorry, It is too ignorant for words. Sorry,

  7. Happypappies,
    If the baby is B12 deficient, then the mother is very likely B12 deficient, too. B12 deficiency causes neurological problems. Therefore, she probably wasn’t in her right mind. Good grief. Have some compassion. She didn’t make the best choice (didn’t take enough B12 or other vitamins because she erroneously thought she could get enough from her diet), or perhaps her body due to some kind of stress didn’t absorb what she was taking. In any case, she is very likely ill herself.

    1. No. The Mother made a life choice of Vegan which was to ignore the doctor’s medicine and advice. Did you ever stop to think perhaps I had been in the same similar situation before? I have been B12 deficient and had to receive shots with 3 children and no Father around. And let me tell you, if the Doctor felt I was not taking care and the Police came and I was not taking care of them properly and there was no Family to take care of them, I certainly hope that someone would call Family Services. I have Compassion for the Child, not the Mother who was stubborn and willful, sorry. I read this story over and over again and I keep coming back to the fact that she willfully ignored the fact that her diet was not good for the baby and yet never went to another vegan Doctor as she promised, about it. The baby would have starved. Wake up.

  8. I think Paul raises some very valid points. I don’t understand the vitriol. The single news story for this that has appeared and been repeated seems more like hearsay than actual reporting. There are a lot of unknowns.

  9. A woman who will not let a policeman in to see a starving dehydrated baby that has not been seen in 24 hours is clearly not fit. Be real. Come on. Like I said I have been a mother and it is not that hard to figure out. You don’t have to be a Doctor or Einstein to figure out when your Baby is hungry or thirsty. it does not need a “Procedure” unless it is dying. It needs to be fed like he told her to do. Common sense should dictate. That is the chain of command. Not the doctor baby sit her. Do you really think she could afford the type of doctor that did “procedures” in the office? You know, for coddled rich women? Sorry. You have to be realistic. And you are not.

    1. happy – I think it is hypersensitive to call the police on someone he could have taken care of in his office.

  10. Paul, I don’t know if you have kids but I do know you don’t know what goes on in a doctors office. they do not hydrate a baby unless it is dying. The baby was dehydrated and the doctor was following up and the Mother did not answer so she was Hotlined. that is how children are kept safe from idiots.

  11. Paul, you just don’t want to get it. The doctor told her the baby was dehydrated, He followed up like the law tells you to. You DON’T do it in the office. You don’t have children you don’t know what you are talking about. so don’t even sound off like you do. When she wouldn’t let the officers in that was a red flag that she had done nothing and she hadn’t. There is no such thing as a Vegan Doctor. They would be kicked out of the AMA as a Quack The Baby’s life was saved, Who cares about the poor Liberal Mommy’s immature feelings. I don’t

    1. happypappies – 1) I do not think quack is a disqualifer for membership in the AMA 2) I have been to plenty of doctors’ offices and some do procedures and some do not 3) I am concerned about both the inexperienced mother and the infant.


  13. Maybe she’s just a TERRORIST. That’s it. Label her a TERRORIST and the government agents in all 4 levels will be salivating to raid her home, slam her to the ground, wrench her arms up behind her shoulders all the while shouting STOP RESISTING, STOP RESISTING, and if one of them accidentally pops off a few rounds into her back, killing her, it will be because they (then) find a stalk of celery or a carrot in a pocket, and they THOUGHT it looked like a lethal weapon. Maybe the SPLC should list notorious VEGANS on their hate-crimes watch list, so they can raise even more money for their private trust fund.

    1. I just had to read the rest of this. I guess if her kid is staving to death it is none of our business but if she was getting an abortion it would be because it would be killing a baby?

      1. I think there is a lot to look at. Is the kid at risk? Is the doctor right? Is the mother right? Is Whole Foods right? Will CPS respect the feeding philosophy of the mother?

        1. The baby was underweight and dehydrated and the Mother refused to feed it and hydrate it and asked for a second opinion. How stupid. The infants life was in danger. I am a Mother 3 times over and a Grandmother of 7 and if I was that stupid I certainly hope someone would break my door down to save my child.

          1. happypappies – if it was that great an emergency, the doctor could had either himself or his nurse feed the infant in his office, or have the mother do it to make sure she was doing it correctly. New mothers don’t always have things down right (it was only a week old). There also seems to have been some conflict been the feeding philosophy of the doctor and the mother.

  14. Rhonda,
    You are right, being vegan does take planning (and supplementation) to be a healthy diet. I also agree that this woman is likely ill and deficient in micronutrients and needs her health looked after, too. Pregnancy can be very hard on a woman’s body.

    Veganism is especially tricky to master during pregnancy because of the high demands on the body for fatty acids and micronutrients–higher than this woman and many others realize. A recent article in Nature notes (May 2014, see below) that B12 deficiency in vegan newborns reached 45%. That is significant and concerning. A deficiency doesn’t mean “just a little low”, it means “really hurting” for a particular nutrient. B12 deficiency causes brain retardation.

    If a vegan mother is deficient in B12 and other vital fatty acids and micronutrients (and her chances of being deficient are about 1 in 3 at the high end), then her breastmilk will be inadequate. Obviously there are risks being a vegan pregnant or lactating woman, not only for the infant but for the mother, if the diet is not very well managed (and for many people it apparently is not, see article below).

    “Choosing to eat a vegan diet as an adult, or choosing to feed your children a vegan diet, takes planning and thought. Not a lot–again, it’s not rocket science–but it does take some.”

    Aye, there’s the rub. And, unfortunately, considering the statistics, the planning, thought, and self-education is lacking (or inadequate) and the consequences are that up to 45% of vegan infants cited in the article below are B12 deficient (how many are low?) and risk mental retardation. Considering this percentage, a vegan diet for infants could very easily be considered irresponsible. A healthy vegan infant diet can very likely be achieved, but, based on the numbers, it seems that for many people it is not.

    You must be very conscientious and careful about you and your family’s diet and I applaud you. If more people were that way, there’d be a whole lot less illness in the world! 🙂

    “The [B12] deficiency prevalence among infants reached 45%. … Deficiency among pregnant women ranged from 17 to 39%, dependent on the trimester. … Higher deficiency prevalence was reported in vegans than in other vegetarians. ”

  15. Paul, I did not say it wasn’t. But, I don’t see it as a defense in a the adjudication phase of a criminal trial. I see it as a factor to consider in the sentencing phase.

  16. Whether or not she was breast-feeding is immaterial to the point I was trying to make. It doesn’t matter if she was breast-feeding, feeding vegan formula, or feeding anything else, the infant was not receiving adequate nutrition.

    If you’re trying to make the point about breast-feeding to raise the issue that the mother’s breast milk was inadequate due to consuming a vegan diet, again I repeat that people need to consume well-planned vegan diets to get the appropriate nutrients. Nursing mothers, vegan or omnivore, have special nutritional needs. If this woman was breast-feeding and her breast milk was inadequate due to her diet, it’s still not a repudiation of a vegan diet. It just shows she was not eating a well-planned vegan diet, or she was having difficulty breast-feeding due to other issues.

    I just find it disheartening that as soon as the word vegan is mentioned, people jump to conclusions and share anecdotes and questionable sources rather than stepping back and thinking that perhaps it’s the people involved rather than the vegan diet.

    You can call yourself vegan and eat Oreos all day. Will you get sick? Likely. But a vegan diet consisting solely of Oreos wouldn’t be considered a well-planned vegan diet by any reasonable person. Just like there are unhealthy omnivore diets (I think health statistics in the United States, speak to this point), there are unhealthy vegan diets. It’s a fallacy to think that just because this one woman called herself vegan and she did not provide appropriate nutrition to her infant that a vegan diet is unhealthy.

  17. There’s no reason a vegetarian mother can’t breast feed her baby successfully. I have nothing against a vegetarian diet for a nursing mom if she gets enough fat and protein and other nutrients. I don’t think she was breast feeding.

    1. “These are hard decisions that make for bad law.”

      I don’t think there is that much subtly about dehydration or malnourishment.

      I might be concerned if the question were whether a parent can choose a vegan diet for a child.

      But I don’t believe the question. It seems to me the issue is whether a parent can ignore and choose not to deal with malnutrition or dehydration.

      We are not talking about some invasive medical procedure such as an operation or injections that carry some risk of significant side effects.

      We are talking providing enough food with sufficient nutrition to support the child’s health.

      If the question is more complicated than that I hope someone enlightens me.

      1. Part of the problem is that you have a first-time mother with a week old-infant who is losing weight. If the doctor was that concerned he should have shipped both of them to the emergency room the moment he saw them. Instead he narcs them out and involves the police. Is the doctor concerned about the baby or about the fact that the mother is not following his feeding orders.
        She is concerned enough about the child to try to get the right formula for it which matched both her philosophical needs and the nutritional needs of the child. If Whole Foods is lying in its advertising about the supplement that is another matter entirely. And if the doctor’s supplement violates her philosophy, does he have the right to impose that on her and the child?
        The police give her an hour (according to this thread) to take the baby to the emergency room. If it was an emergency they should have carted both of them off together immediately.

  18. A lot of people seem to be making a vegan diet the bogeyman, in addition to making sweeping statements and providing questionable sources.

    Nina Planck has no medical credentials–she’s a cookbook writer who didn’t thrive on a vegan/vegetarian diet and is part of a family that makes their living off of dairy products. That doesn’t make her a dietitian or a pediatrician or an expert on nutrition.

    Chris Kresser is an acupuncturist, which again, does not make him an expert on nutrition.

    If people tried to use such sources as justification for a vegan diet, people would be quick to criticize.

    Regarding the Pediatrics study, again I would like to point out that the key words are “well-planned vegan diet.” Feeding a child, or anyone, rice milk and few, if any, nutritious foods would cause them to get sick.

    Choosing to eat a vegan diet as an adult, or choosing to feed your children a vegan diet, takes planning and thought. Not a lot–again, it’s not rocket science–but it does take some.

    Feeding your child an inadequate diet, so that he or she experiences health issues or fails to thrive–whether that diet is omnivorous or vegan–is neglect.

    One woman and one infant, with whatever the issues may be, is not a repudiation of a vegan diet. Yes, it is a very sad incident. However, regardless of the justifications this woman gave for her actions, it is not a vegan diet that caused this infant’s problems. It was how this uninformed, likely ill, mother behaved that caused this infant’s problems.

    1. Rhonda – we have yet to be told if this woman was nursing or trying to nurse the child. If she was, then her milk should have been enough for the child. Weight gain in babies is always given in averages, it is not specific. We do not know that the Whole Food supplement was any better or worse than the supplement the doctor was fobbing off on her.

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