Baby's Tragic Death From Diluted Breast Milk Is a Sad Warning for Moms

baby nursing

As a mother, there are few things that rip my heart in two like the news of a child's death -- particularly a senseless death like this one: A Georgia couple is being charged with child abuse and manslaughter after their 10-week-old baby daughter died because she was being fed breastmilk that had been diluted with water.

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By the time Herbert George Landell, 26, and Lauren Heather Fristed, 25, brought their daughter Nevaeh Marie Landell to the emergency room, she was already dead from water intoxication, a dangerous (potentially deadly!) result of what's known as "formula stretching," or the practice of mixing water with breastmilk or formula to make it last longer. Pediatricians caution against giving babies under the age of 6 months any water at all because it has no nutritional balance and can upset their bodies' balance of electrolytes and sodium -- that's what happened to Nevaeh, causing her brain to swell. 

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It's just unbearably tragic, and the worst part is that it was completely preventable. Of course one has to wonder why the couple was diluting Lauren's breastmilk with water in the first place (since breastmilk is obviously free, financial concerns probably weren't to blame). Maybe Lauren was having trouble producing enough milk and thought water would help to stretch out her supply? Or maybe she was following the advice of a well-intentioned (but misinformed) relative or friend? Not that it really matters now -- knowing the reason behind this couple's actions won't bring their little girl back.

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But hopefully other parents will learn from this horrible story: Always, always follow your pediatrician's advice when it comes to feeding your infant! And if you're having a hard time breastfeeding, don't despair: Many hospitals offer the services of lactation consultants for free, and there are tons of other resources available if you need support. (Plus, if you need to supplement with formula, that's okay!! The main thing is making sure your baby gets all the nutrition he or she needs.)

Have you ever heard of formula stretching? 

 

Image via Shutterstock

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