An American couple resident in Florida have been arrested and charged with negligent manslaughter after their 18-month-old toddler died of malnutrition manslaughter.
Ryan O’Leary, 30, and Sheila O’Leary, 35, were arrested last week in Cape Coral, Florida after their 18-month-old son died on September 27 weighing only 17 pounds, which is the weight of an average seven-month-old.
An autopsy found that the toddler died after suffering complications related to malnutrition, including dehydration, microsteatosis of liver and swelling of hands, feet and legs, Cape Coral police said in a statement.
Sheila O’Leary called 911 after she found the boy cold and not breathing. Ryan O’Leary tried to resuscitate the child, but he was unsuccessful. Paramedics arrived and pronounced the boy dead.
When questioned, she told the police that her family is vegan and only eats raw fruits and vegetables. She said that she also breast fed her toddler, adding that the toddler had not eaten solid food in a week and had only been breast fed.
Shortly after, the O’Learys turned themselves in. They charged with aggravated negligent manslaughter among other charges and are being held in jail until their arraignment on December 9.
The NHS advises a vegan or vegetarian diet is suitable for babies and children but parents must ensure the child is receiving sufficient nutrients and calories. Supplements may be required and parents are advised to talk to health professionals for further advice.
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