A baby in Italy has been removed from his parents after it was discovered he had been fed a vegan diet.
The 14-month-old was rushed to hospital by his grandparents and was suffering from serious malnutrition that he weighed little more than a newborn, reports The Telegraph.
Doctors were shocked to discover the poor state of the child’s health, suffering from dangerously low calcium levels and a congenital heart condition that required immediate surgery.
The child is now recovering in hospital, and the courts will determine whether or not he will be returned to his parents.
A Vegan diet is restricted to plant-based foods, avoiding all animal foods including meat, fish, shellfish and insects as well as dairy, eggs and honey. The Vegan Society defines veganism as:
A philosophy and way of living which seeks to exclude—as far as is possible and practicable—all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose; and by extension, promotes the development and use of animal-free alternatives for the benefit of humans, animals and the environment. In dietary terms it denotes the practice of dispensing with all products derived wholly or partly from animals.
Veganism is not new but there’s no denying it is on the rise worldwide - in Italy alone an estimated 2.8% of people are vegan.
Sadly this is not the first case of a child being admitted to hospital due to malnutrition in the country, with the Washington Post reporting that there have been multiple cases in recent months in relation to vegan diets.
Experts are urging parents to ensure their children are getting all the vitamins they need for growth and development and to seek professional advice if they are unsure.
"This forces us to reflect on uncommon feeding regimes, even if in this case it was complicated by a cardiac malformation," Luca Bernardo, director of paediatrics at the hospital that admitted the child, told the Telegraph.
"It is not a problem to choose different or unusual kinds of nutrition and we certainly do not want to enter into a discussion of the merits of the decision. But since birth, the baby should have had support in this case with calcium and iron."