Did you know that giving your baby too much water can kill them?
It’s a frightening headline. Water intoxication killed a baby.
Something so very natural and normal. You couldn’t imagine it could harm.
And yet it did just that. A baby girl, only a few months old, dead.
A couple from the US state of Georgia have been arrested after their 10-week old baby died from drinking diluted breast milk which caused her brain to swell.
Nevaeh Marie Landell died in late March of water intoxication according to CBS NEWS. Her parents now arrested after police investigated her death.
Prosecutors have claimed that her parents, 26-year old Herbert George Landell and 25-year old Lauren Heather Fristed added water to their baby daughter's breast milk, robbing it of nutrients.
When Nevaeh got sick the couple didn't seek medical treatment due to their religious beliefs. When they finally took the desperately ill little girl to hospital it was too late. She was already dead.
Police say that while Nevaeh did receive breast milk it was watered down – stretched out as some refer to the method – which caused Nevaeh's electrolyte and sodium levels to drop and made her brain swell.
Her father, George Landell has been charged with felony murder and aggravated battery by depriving.
Her mother Lauren Fristed was charged with aggravated battery by depriving, first-degree cruelty to children, and second-degree cruelty to children.
Both were refused bail.
Experts say that little Nevaeh would have shown signs of water toxicity including grogginess, confusion, drowsiness, twitching and seizures.
For a news story on the baby girl’s tragic death watch this video here. Post continues after video.
Stretching out breast milk or baby formula is a practice discouraged by doctors, but not widely talked about.
A study conducted in 2009 found that one in nine families stretched formula at some stage. The reasons they gave for doing it were simple: the cost.
Let's quell some of the myths.
Can stretching formula or breast milk kill?
Yes it can. An expert told The Stir that it could lead to deaths.
Lillian Beard, a Maryland pediatrician, who is also medical adviser and consultant to the International Formula Council said:
"The water will occupy the space in the stomach that the milk or infant formula should be occupying. When there is too much water, it can cause a dilution of the body chemistry and electrolytes. The brain actually needs everything in really perfect balance. Too much water can cause seizures that can result in death.”
So can you actually give your baby water?
The Australian National Health and Medical Research Council Infant Feeding Guidelines say that you can give your baby water from the age of six months.
Use cool boiled water until the age of 12 months.
If possible around six months is the time to introduce a sippy cup.
We’ve all had our mums or mother-in-laws telling us to give our bubs some cool boiled water in hot weather, or when they have constipation, well according to the experts this isn’t necessary. The ONLY time your baby – breast or formula fed needs extra water is when your doctor recommends it, or when you begin solids.
So what should I feed my baby?
Overall the recommendation from Australian and international authorities is to feed your baby breast milk.
• for infants in their first 6 months, without other solids or liquids, and
• for older infants and toddlers in combination with solids, for as long as the mother and child desire.
Health experts say that breast milk gives infants the best possible start, even if it’s only for the first few months or weeks.
For mothers unable to breastfeed or who choose to use infant formula commercially produced infant formula is still a wonderful choice.
Australian National Health and Medical Research Council Infant Feeding Guidelines recommend that if an infant is not breastfed or is partially breastfed, commercial infant formulas should be used as an alternative to breast milk until 12 months of age.
If anyone points you in the direction of those homemade DIY formulas show them the way to the door. As politely as you can.
If you are having difficulty managing feeding your baby or struggling with the temptation to stretch breast milk or formula talk to your doctor first.
If you have been giving your baby boiled water already again - don't panic, just keep in mind the guidelines and talk to your health professionals on your next visit.
We are all good mums. We are just inundated by information and sometimes it is hard to work out what is best.
For more information on the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council Guidelines go here:
Here are some numbers that can help.
Australian Breastfeeding Association (They will help with emergency formula needs too): contact 1800 686 268
Salvation Army: 1300 36 36 22
Perinatal depression helpline: 1300 726 306
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