Vegan parents facing jail time after toddler found so severely malnourished she didn't have teeth
A vegan man and woman in Australia are facing jail time after their 20-month-old daughter was found so severely malnourished that she didn't have any teeth and appeared as if she was just three months old.
The girl's 32-year-old mother and 35-year-old father, whose identities have not been released, first appeared in court in May 2018, two months after their toddler suffered a seizure at their Sydney home and was hospitalized, according to Australian outlet News.com.au.
Court documents revealed that the emaciated child was breastfed once a day and then fed a strict diet of oats, potatoes, rice, tofu, bread and peanut butter, with fruit and raisins serving as her only snacks, according to the Sydney Morning Herald. The girl had also allegedly not been vaccinated or taken to see a pediatrician since the day she was born.
A statement read by the toddler's foster caregiver in Downing Centre Court on Thursday revealed some of the disturbing details of the girl's "terrifying" condition under her parents' guardianship.
The caregiver, whose name was also not released, told the court that the toddler weighed just 10.87 pounds and looked about the size of a three-month-old infant when she first encountered her in August 2018.
She said the baby was "so behind other children" that she couldn’t perform basic actions like rolling over and has been thoroughly “traumatized" by the medical testing she must constantly undergo.
"She begins to scream and cry if she goes into a medical room and the door is closed," the caregiver said in a statement.
The child is now said to be doing well and had packed on 13 pounds during her months in foster care, the Daily Mail reports. However, her weight gain, combined with her short stature due to her stunted growth, have landed her in the obese category.
"It's like her body is storing calories in case she needs them in the future," her carer said.
The girl and her two brothers, ages four and six, are now living with relatives in another Australian state.
Both parents have pleaded guilty to failing to provide for a child and causing serious injury.