#1 By: Maggie Koerth-Baker, September 13th, 2013 12:43
#2 By: Acer Platanoides , September 13th, 2013 12:57
Fear is the mind killer.
In this case, the consequences are horrifying.
#3 By: David Deutsch, September 13th, 2013 13:22
Reminds me of a story I once read about two parents who only gave their baby almond milk since it was "more pure" or something. Can't recall whether it was malnutrition, traces of cyanide, a nut allergy or some other form of "don't Dunning-Kruger your child" giving that story its tragic end.
Then again, a short web search for a search doesn't turn up much, so might have been an urban myth.
#4 By: IMB, September 13th, 2013 13:28
What made them consider that the child was allergic to everything in the first place? It's not as if the hospital or doctors had any documentation of visits regarding the allergies. Were they projecting neuroses (anxiety disorders) about their own food dislikes and fears or was this an instance or two of Münchausen by proxy for attention?
#5 By: Jen Hamilton, September 13th, 2013 13:32
I don't think this could really be considered Munchausen's by Proxy, as it didn't seem to be done for attention. Rather, hypochondriacal transference + idiocy? The mother was a health care provider, ffs, and still did this?
#6 By: fuzzyfuzzyfungus, September 13th, 2013 13:38
I hope that her position was one of those where they give you a fancy title instead of a raise, rather than one with actual power; because it sure sounds like her medical expertise is closer to negligent homicide than accuracy...
#7 By: Christopher Waldrop, September 13th, 2013 13:57
There may be explanatory details from the article that I'm missing, but their story fell apart at "the point at which the parents refuse Vitamin A supplementation".
It's one thing to believe, even incorrectly, that your child has an allergy and to make an effort to protect them. It's something else entirely to refuse to give your child a medically necessary treatment.
#8 By: Bob Le Drew, September 13th, 2013 14:00
So here's what this tragic story makes me think: these people were some combination of evil and stupid/misinformed. So how do "enlightened" people (like us, here on this board), get to them. If they're stupid/misinformed, how do we educate them? If they're simply evil, how do we remove their children from this harmful situation?
My gut reaction was a hearty desire that they be subjected to identical treatment to better appreciate the consequences of their actions. But that doesn't solve the problem, does it? How do we keep people from doing this to their children?
#9 By: Maggie Koerth-Baker, September 13th, 2013 14:01
They parents had also self-diagnosed the girl with multiple chemical sensitivities and thought she'd be harmed by preservatives in the vitamin supplement.
#10 By: gilbert wham, September 13th, 2013 14:24
Oh, that's good. Stealing that.
#11 By: Charlie, September 13th, 2013 14:43
Good questions! I'd argue that the best thing to do is intensely publicize stories like this one. Humans respond to narratives, more than to any other indirect stimulus.
The worst thing to do would be to empower yet another category of authorities that can override parents' wishes. Individual cases notwithstanding, parents are a child's best protection - the vast majority of parents are the best possible source of care for their children.
#12 By: James Penrose, September 13th, 2013 14:50
The world is becoming increasingly stupid with "feelings" and "faith" considered adequate replacementsed for genuine knowledge and this causes people to listen to all sorts of nonsense from self-styled "experts" or those with a bare minimum of education but a lot of "ideas".
Far too many people are simply pig ignorant and prefer to remain that way even when shown concrete evidence they are doing harm.
#13 By: Manny, September 13th, 2013 14:54
I don't think people are stupider or spell worse than 100 years ago. I think that they get on the Internet now, so we see them. News spreads more widely and every idjit can have a Twitter & Facebook or put dimwitted hate speech videos on YouTube.
#14 By: fuzzyfuzzyfungus, September 13th, 2013 15:00
Do you have anything more than a feeling that this is true? It's entirely possible that there was a time when 'doctor's orders' and social conformity kept people from doing this particular flavor of dumb thing; but the past is not...exactly... a rationalist haven.
#15 By: Miriam_Anixter, September 13th, 2013 15:05
I was reading some James Burke (aka connections fame) and one thing he mentioned in the pre-literate age was that testimony from people you knew trumped anything written. Because, of course, someone could always lie in writing... I feel that we have re-exposed that peasant mindset where things we hear from our friends on facebook are more real and believable than, say, what the doctors in the hospital are saying.
#16 By: Halloween Jack, September 13th, 2013 15:14
As much as parts of this story make me furious (especially what happened to the child's eyes), I feel for the parents (to a certain extent) because of all the fearmongering that gets thrown at parents these days, particularly with regards to allergies and/or chemical sensitivities. And, it should be noted, some kids really do have them; a good friend's young daughter has done much better, physically, mentally and emotionally since going on a gluten-free diet. This is something of an edge case, although I'm still blaming Jenny McCarthy & Co. for much of this mindset.
#17 By: Jorpho, September 13th, 2013 15:21
I reckon the way it goes is that if they give the child something to eat, and the child starts crying or defecates unexpectedly, the conclusion is that the child must be allergic to something in the food. And if the child happens to be crying or defecating unexpectedly all the time, well, that can't possibly be normal...
#18 By: Petronius, September 13th, 2013 15:25
It's a little difficult to tell from this spare report, but you wonder if the malnutrition in the older child ever came to the attention of the authorities.
Also, they were "unimmunized". Why am I not surprised?
#19 By: Ryuthrowsstuff, September 13th, 2013 15:34
Something similar happened near my home town. A couple who kept to a strict raw vegan diet decided that even human breast milk was inappropriate for their infant. They also apparently felt formula of any kind was too processed and unnatural. They used to come to a deli where a friend worked to buy soy and almond milk. The kid was visibly malnourished and several of the locals got kind of concerned and started talking about calling social services. They disappeared from the area after a bit and I never found out how it worked out.
#20 By: Phasma Felis, September 13th, 2013 16:16
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