The trial against two Belgian parents, identified only as Peter S and Sandrina V, has begun after their seven-month-old died of starvation on June 6, 2014.
Almost three years after an autopsy showed baby Lucas’ stomach was bordering on empty – a result of the extreme gluten-free diet his parents fed him – the duo are facing a possible 18-months jail each.
In a local court, public prosecutors said Peter S and Sandrina V, who owned a ‘natural food store’ at the time, fed their child an extreme diet consisting mostly of quinoa milk, oat milk and rice milk.
‘The parents determined their own diagnosis that their child was gluten intolerant and had a lactose allergy,’ prosecutors said.
Despite Lucas weighing a measly 4.29 kilograms, half of what a boy his age should weigh, his parents also failed to seek proper medical attention when they saw their child ‘gasping for air’ in his last few days of life.
‘We never went with Lucas to a doctor because we never noticed anything unusual,’ the boy’s 34-year-old father reportedly told the court.
Instead, the duo chose to drive hours to a homeopathic practitioner, instead of taking a starving Lucas to the closest hospital.
Mother Sandrina V, 30, said through tears: ‘Sometimes he gained a little weight, sometimes he lost a little. We never wished for the death of our son.’
But when parents make the decision to self-diagnose their infant with lactose intolerance and take him off breast milk or formula, it's a choice pediatric dietitian Susie Burrell regards as "absolute negligence".
"Particularly up to five years of age, and more specifically two years of age, toddlers and infants have very specific nutrition requirements," Burrell, who worked in a children's hospital for close to a decade, told Mamamia.