A 14-month-old boy is suffering with malnutrition, and weighs just slightly more than a newborn, after his vegan parents failed to feed him a nutritionally sound diet.
According to The Telegraph, the Italian toddler was taken to hospital by his concerned grandparents. There it was found the boy, whose name is undisclosed, had calcium levels so low he was teetering on the edge of death.
His alarmingly low calcium levels caused the tiny child to suffer a congenital heart condition, which required emergency surgery.
Local authorities have since removed the boy from the custody of his parents.
Luca Bernardo, the director of pediatrics at the Milan hospital where the boy was admitted, told the publication, the provided diet was dangerous for a child his age.
“It is not a problem to choose different or unusual kinds of nutrition, and we certainly do not want to enter into a discussion of the merits of the decision. But since birth, the baby should have had support in this case with calcium and iron.
“This forces us to reflect on uncommon feeding regimes, even if in this case it was complicated by a cardiac malformation."
It is estimated 2.8 per cent of the Italian population is vegan, and this is the fifth case of a child being hospitalised for malnutrition in the country within the last 18 months.
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics reportedly has no issue with parents feeding their child a vegetarian diet, as long as such is supplemented with necessary vitamins B12, vitamin D, calicum and iron. It is also advised that such groups consult a dietitian.
The Telegraph reports that the child is recovering in hospital. It is most likely the grandparents will gain custody of the little boy.