Mom Arrested Because She Refuses to Feed Baby Formula​​​

A Florida mom, who says she has strict vegan beliefs, was arrested and charged with child neglect after she refused to bring her 12-day-old newborn to the hospital to be treated for dehydration.

Sarah Anne Markham, who is 23, reportedly brought her son to his pediatrician and was told he had lost weight and needed to be taken for medical treatment. The doctor gave her formula and told her she needed to feed her baby, but Markham allegedly refused because she feared the formula contained animal by-products. Instead of following doc's orders, police say the woman went home -- where she later wouldn't open the door and speak with authorities.

Police, who were called after the mom didn't show up at the hospital, say they actually had to contact a locksmith to help them enter Markham's apartment. When they questioned her, she claimed she had purchased soy formula to give her baby and that, even though she didn't want to, she would take him to the hospital because she was being "forced" to do so.

Fast forward to one hour later and Markham was STILL at home and hadn't addressed her son's health concern, according to police. She was arrested at her residence that evening.

It's difficult to determine whether this mom was even fully aware of the dangerous situation she had put her baby in. She told doctors her newborn was fine because he was having bowel movements. And, when asked why she didn't want to take him to the hospital, she said she felt it was important to get a second opinion from a vegan holistic doctor.

So many questions, but I have to start with the obvious one: If this mom was giving her baby soy milk, why was he still dehydrated? Something isn't right here.

That aside, I can't imagine hearing a doctor tell me my baby wasn't healthy and not doing everything in my power to help him -- even if it goes against my beliefs. An innocent child's health comes first -- period. When I gave birth to my daughter, I was determined to feed her the "right way" -- with breast milk. But the minute her pediatrician informed me, four days after her birth, that she had lost too much weight, I was terrified. And what I had to do wasn't even a question in my mind -- I grabbed the nearest container of formula and filled up those bottles.

Now that my child is 3, she eats everything -- even though I stay away from eggs, dairy, and most meat. It isn't that I feel a person can't be healthy while vegan, it's that my toddler isn't willing to eat my chia seed puddings and lentil and flax seed casseroles. I'm not confident she would get the nutrients her growing body requires, and in my opinion, it isn't worth the risk.

Granted, I don't follow dietary restrictions for religious reasons, and it's worth noting that Markham is a Seventh-Day Adventist and says her beliefs regarding food stem from her religious beliefs.

I can't say my religion would make the slightest difference to me in this case. Children have their entire lives to make well-informed choices about their dietary beliefs. When they're young, it's our duty to simply make sure they are getting what they need to survive and thrive.

Do you feel this mom deserves to be charged with child neglect? Would you let your children follow a strict vegan diet?


Image via Florida Mug Shots/Facebook

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sylph... sylph_ironlight

I feel that his has very little to do with vegan beliefs. Yes, she used this as an excuse, but that's all it was-an excuse. There's no reason for a child to be dehydrated so long as he is getting enough fluids and doesn't have diarrhea. If her concern in not giving the formula prescribed by the doctor was that it wasn't vegan, then a soy based formula should be fine-so long as she was actually giving it. Her refusal to take the baby to the hospital to get fluids, and her apparent lackadaisical care for her child should be very carefully looked at. The link also claims that she was unperturbed about being arrested and not being able to see her child until she goes before a judge. Red flags!!

kjjakjja kjjakjja

They had every right to intervene. Newborns need formula or breastmilk, and whatever holistic stuff she was giving him, he was dehydrated and she refused to treat it. Should they have waited until the baby died before action?

IHear... IHeartCake

This article asks why the baby would be dehydrated if the mother was feeding him soy milk.  Let's hope she did not give him soy milk but did give him soy formula.  Babies given just soy milk have died. I don't know what to say about this article.  It's not clear whether she was giving the baby soy formula or just claimed to be and why she was not having success breastfeeding.  It's not clear how much weight he lost and whether he really needed to be in the hospital or the doctor was being overly cautious, but she should have brought him to the hospital and discussed it all with the doctors there.  Children don't belong with parents who would not take them to the hospital when advised by a doctor to do so.

nonmember avatar gretta

Clearly deranged. Needs psychological help ASAP.

nonmember avatar crystal

It's actually completely normal for infants to lose weight in the first days after their birth. They typically gain some weight, just before birth, in utero. The reason they will lose weight has to do with the mother's lactation process after birth. In the first few days after birth, a mother only produces colostrum, not the richer milk that comes later. So, babies lose some weight. Fortunately, through our own natural biological processes, babies are prepared for this.

There is some debate amongst doctors about how much weight loss is normal versus damaging to an infants health. Some doctors even argue that any amount of weight lost by the infant is damaging and requires immediate medical intervention.

The problem in this scenario is that government authorities are forcing one agenda/philosophy on this mother when there is not a medical concensus regarding the matter in question.

nonmember avatar Bella Rose

I understand that there are some parents who follow strict dietary restrictions, and that's fine. However, I feel a child this young or any child period who is not receiving the proper and adequate nutrition needed for their growing bodies and brains should not be subject to their parents dietary habits. I feel that parents should so what is right for their growing babies and if that is breast feed or supplement with formula then so be it. This "parent" should be investigated for negligence because this baby should not have went dehydrated this long and the fact she didn't feel a urgent need to take her baby to the hospital raise multiple red flags.

Tracys2 Tracys2

Yes, some doctors are a bit crazy on any weight loss, which can be problematic for those of us nursing. A good first step is to pump during/after feedings to get breastmilk to supplement with, but forcing formula on a baby who has just lost a little weight is scary. It happened to me. All 3 babies failed to thrive, and all 3 are very healthy, large (but not fat) kids now.

OTOH, dehydration is something else. If the baby has enough wet diapers, the baby is likely fine. Nowhere here does it state why the doctor thought he was dehydrated- simply weight loss, or other, far more scary signs?

This lack of trust- a woman so scared that somebody will force her and her baby into something horrible despite everything being OK that she locked the door- is all the worse because often, a baby really DOES need help. A doctor would usually not send a baby to the hospital for mild failure to gain weight. And now, people don't trust doctors, even when they're right.

We do usually only hear these stories after the baby dies...

nonmember avatar Clarissa

lots of babies grow and thrive on soy formula. and honestly if it comes between your baby dieing and some formula with a teeny bit of animal products...sorry animals lose.

nonmember avatar FarmersWife

I agree with a second opinion AT THE HOSPITAL. dehydration is dangerous. But formula is not the answer. Breasts milk has natural electrolytes that help much much more than formula. She may have needed a lactation consultant to correct latch, maybe herbal or medical treatment to help boost milk production. But if baby has time to be rehydrated through formula, it isn't an emergency and there's reason not to breast feed. But being hospital was recommended makes me think baby needed to be rehydrated IV or otherwise, not just with food.

Lucki... Luckicharmz

If she herself was on a well balanced vegan diet with all the proper vitamins and nutrients there should be no reason that has any effect on her baby. I know a few Vegan moms who had no issues with healthy breastfed children.

This could come down to lack of proper education on feeding herself (the mother) lack of education on ensuring the child is getting the correct intake of milk, plain neglect, and just downright bullheadedness. She should have gone to the hospital when it was recommended, no arguments there

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