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