‘Days away from dying’: Sydney mom avoids jail after ‘raw diet’ almost starves baby to death
The mother, 33, a maternity ward nurse, was handed a 14-month suspended jail sentence at Campbelltown Local Court on Wednesday after her eight-month old baby boy almost died, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.
The woman went on a raw food and water-only diet which was supposed to help treat her son’s eczema. She reportedly followed the recommendations of Leppington naturopath Marilyn Bodnar, 60.
The boy was admitted to hospital in a near death condition, suffering from starvation and dehydration in May 2015.
The prosecution asserted that the mother “decided to blindly follow a naturopath she had only just met” and that the child would have inevitably died if the woman hadn’t eventually gone to a doctor.
The boy vomited for almost a week after being given goat’s milk on the naturopath’s advice, had sunken eyes and was practically unable to move when he was admitted to hospital.
“It is an extraordinarily serious example of failing to provide for a child,” Magistrate Ian Guy said when announcing the court’s verdict.
“In this case there was a failure to provide a level care to the point where the child was days away from dying.”
“She went against her training, and against the tell-tale signs which would have been blindingly obvious to anyone.”
Bodnar told the mother there was a way to cure her son during a massage session in February last year, according to a police statement.
During the following months the physician convinced the mother to go on the diet and also made her feel ashamed for using steroid ointment for the eczema, saying it was better to allow the skin to breath.
Bodnar made the mother feel guilty for eating the wrong food during her pregnancy, implying that was the main cause of the boy’s condition, the court documents said.
“Are you 100 percent raw? You have to be 100 percent raw if you want to see your son heal,” the naturopath allegedly told the mother.
Bodnar had previously pleaded not guilty to aiding, abetting or failing to provide for a child and recklessly causing harm when she appeared in Fairfield Local Court in July.
The baby weighed only 6.39kg (nearly 14 pounds), which is an extreme point of starvation for children of his age.
The naturopath is to appear in court to face a committal hearing on Monday.
Police suggest the boy, who is now discharged from hospital, could have long-term developmental problems following Bodnar’s treatment.