Wednesday, March 30, 2011

French Vegan Parents Face 30 years in Jail

French vegans face trial after death of baby fed only on breast milk | World news | The Guardian:

Does it get reported in the Nationals the Bill Clinton went vegan for heart health? That a Vegan cage fighter wins a world championship? That Oprah Winfrey helps her staff battle obesity and chronic disease with a vegan diet? - No

Quite often the only time we see vegan in a headline is when a baby tragically dies. Another story today highlights the need for parental education, it's one of the most important jobs we ever have in our lives and one that we are often so ill prepared for.
Two strict vegans have gone on trial in France charged with "neglect or food deprivation" after the death of their breastfed 11-month-old daughter who was found to be suffering from vitamin deficiency.

"The couple did not follow the doctor's advice to take the baby to hospital when they went for her nine-month checkup and found she was suffering from bronchitis and was losing weight," he said. Instead they treated her with cabbage poultices, mustard and camphor and washed her with earth and clay instead of giving her baths, the court heard.
These parents thought they were doing the right thing, I'm convinced modern medicinal theory and abuse of anti-biotics causes more harm than good - but anti-biotics are good crisis management and in a crisis they can save lives. A cabbage and mud poultice is unlikely to save anyone's life. But are naivety and stupidity grounds for imprisoning parents for 30 years? Surely the death of their daughter is severe punishment in itself? They were after all acting with the best intentions - they didn't intentionally cause the death of their baby or cause death by selfish actions, a lack of common sense yes but not selfish!

If this is a valid route for law then why does the law stand by and not take action with mothers who are not only naive and stupid but selfish as well!

Tempting as it may to make an analogy with mothers who feed their children sweets, crisps and cola for breakfast and KFC fried chicken for tea and risk/cause childhood obesity, diabetes, heart disease and cancer for their kids.... I am going to resist.

Who then? - Mothers that smoke! Why do we not take action against them? We know smoking kills - there is no doubt of 'if' only when. We are not talking a cabbage and mud poultice here and there, we are talking about a practice that has been scientifically proven to increase the risk of death!

In 2009, 16% of 15-year old girls were regular smokers .

Stats from 2005 show smoking rates are usually higher for mothers in routine or manual jobs: 48% smoked in the year before pregnancy or during and 29% throughout pregnancy compared to mothers in managerial or professional jobs whose equivalent percentages were 19% and 7%. Govt targets are to reduce smoking to 21% !

Over 13 years ago a meta-analysis of data available on cigarette smoking and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome risk was published - its findings released to the British media on March 11, 1998 .

This review of the epidemiological evidence linking maternal smoking and SIDS was based on 39 studies, incorporating a number of major recent studies and including some earlier studies not mentioned in existing reviews. It was conducted by scientific investigators at the Department of Public Health Sciences, St. George's Hospital Medical School, in London, and was completed in April 1997. The authors, H. Ross Anderson and Derek G. Cook, conclude that "maternal smoking doubles the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome." They further conclude that "the relationship is almost certainly causal."

Though it is considered to be one of the most significant known risk factors for SIDS, medical experts in the U.S. stop short of describing the association between cigarette smoke exposure and SIDS as "causal." Case control, population-based studies from several countries have shown that cigarette smoking during pregnancy triples the risk for SIDS. Epidemiologic studies have shown that exposure to cigarette smoke in the environment after birth doubles the risk for SIDS. These studies have led some scientists to believe that cigarette smoking is part of the causal pathway, possibly due to intrauterine hypoxia, although the mechanism is still not clear.

Some recent studies have added to our understanding of the possible physiologic mechanisms underlying the association between smoking and SIDS. Scientists (Kinney et. al.) have documented defects in some SIDS infants in sites of the brainstem involved in arousal, heart and breathing functions, sleep, and body movement control. While we do not yet know exactly how smoking affects a fetus, abnormalities in the developing nervous system have been observed in animals exposed to cigarette smoke in utero.

Components of smoke are also believed to have a negative effect on fetal lung development. Based on epidemiologic investigations, sustained cigarette smoke exposure makes it more difficult for babies who are already vulnerable to breathe. In addition, smoke exposure may disrupt the arousal mechanism in infants, as it is known to do in adult smokers, and may contribute to neonatal death during an hypoxic episode. Moreover, its effect on narrowing blood vessels induces smokers to keep their environments warmer and to use more bedding than non-smokers--two more factors that increase the risk of SIDS.

Studies have also shown that infants who share a bed with smokers may be subjected to higher levels of smoke than other infants because of more and closer contact with the smokers (Mitchell et. al.). Recent attention to the potential relationship between particulate air pollution and SIDS (Woodruff et. al.) has raised scientific speculation regarding possible harmful components of cigarette smoke beyond nicotine.

In Great Britain, where prone sleeping is no longer a major SIDS risk factor due to the success of the "Back To Sleep" public health campaigns, cigarette smoking has emerged as the main risk factor for SIDS. The Confidential Enquiry into Stillbirths and Deaths in Infancy (Fleming, et. al.) found the risk of SIDS to rise with increases in the numbers of smokers in the household, the number of cigarettes smoked a day, and the length of exposure to cigarette smoke. The study concluded that it should be considered "as anti-social to smoke around an infant as it is to drink and drive."

As the body of evidence against infant exposure to cigarette smoke continues to mount, parents are strongly advised not to smoke during pregnancy and the critical first year of development, or allow anyone else to smoke around the baby either.

It is equally important that, since many babies still die of SIDS in smoke-free environments and since the cause(s) of SIDS remain unknown.

Nonetheless - Hypocrisy rooLz!


Tony - FoodsforLife said...

There is much evidence of the harmful effects on children in ‘smoking’ households including respiratory disease, asthma attacks, cot deaths and middle ear infections. The Acheson report highlights the fact that while one third of children in the UK live with at least one adult smoker, among low-income families the figure is 57%.

Smoking during pregnancy increases the risk of spontaneous abortion, preterm birth, low birth weight and stillbirth. In addition, IARC states that there is sufficient evidence that parental smoking (mother and father) during the preconception period and pregnancy increases risk of hepatoblastoma in offspring, and limited evidence that parental smoking increases risk of childhood leukaemia in offspring.

Trevor said...

The fact that fast foods and smoking are bad for kids, has nothing to do with this tragedy. I think it's shameful that the author of this blogpost would draw that kind of analogy. That's a red herring designed to distract people from the real issue: that a child died because of parents ill-founded 'faith' in alternative medicine.

When veganism is combined with a profound distrust of medicine, this is the result.

Twisters Bar said...

I was hoping this article would develop in a more interesting direction. The headline has nothing to do with your conclusion and you've failed to explore the main issue here, which to me was "What are the effects of a vegan diet and homoeopathic upbringing on an infant?"
I'll come straight out and say that I eat meat, keep an open mind and am a parent to a child who also eats meat.
We all know smoking is dreadful for everyone's health and especially for pregnant mothers and parents full stop for that matter. Why then instead of examining the issues relevant to this blog have you decided to just point the finger elsewhere?

Tony - FoodsforLife said...

Because twisted for me the hypocrisy of the situation where society tolerates the stupidity of smoking around kids with the worst intention but not the stupidity of treating a kid with cabbage and mud with the best intention.

I think society should have a strategy to treat all parental stupidity equally.

There is no question about breast milk, a complete vegan diet, or homeopathic medicine being unsuitable for children.

The issue is watching your child slowly die and using DIY medicine when you are not trained.

When veganism is combined with a profound distrust of medicine, this is the result.

Trevor, this would suggest there is some magic ingredient in meat or dairy that would have saved this child's life - Zinc? iron? B12? All these are in breast milk and much more in a healthy mother.

What the child needed was antibiotics and some vitamin and mineral rich food. Her poor compromised digestive system would have likely struggled with meat anyway.

It's the mention of vegan that is the red herring - being vegan doesn't stop you following professional medical advice.

"What are the effects of a vegan diet and homoeopathic upbringing on an infant?"

Most health authorities including the American Dietetic Association have confirmed a varied vegan diet to be suitable for a healthy infant's development.

Sceptics claim that homeopathic medicine, whilst more effective than placebo is just placebo so then it cannot harm a baby.

No health professional alternative or otherwise would be working within the boundaries of their license, insurance or the law if they failed to insist a chronic condition was reported to a Doctor.

The problem here was that the parents didn't consult any professional medical or otherwise - the apparently just read a few books on cabbages.