© 2002 The Associated Press
Vegetarians Face Child Abuse Charge
By Stephanie Gaskell
Associated Press Writer
Tuesday, April 30, 2002; 7:50 AM
NEW YORK -- A couple who put their baby daughter on a strict vegetarian diet were charged with child endangerment after authorities found the girl last year weighing only half her normal weight, prosecutors said.
Joseph and Silva Swinton, both 31, were charged with reckless endangerment and endangering the welfare of a child. Both pleaded innocent Friday.
Prosecutors said the baby was fed ground nuts, fresh-squeezed juices, herbal tea, beans, cod liver oil and flax seed oil. She was not breast-fed or given infant formulas.
Authorities were alerted to the situation by an anonymous call in November, said Maris Campbell, a spokeswoman for the district attorney. She said the baby was "in grave risk of death."
"She weighed only 10 pounds, less than half the weight of an average 16-month-old female child, and appeared to be the size of a 2- to 3-month-old baby," District Attorney Richard Brown said Monday.
But Warren Silverman, a lawyer representing the mother, said the parents "felt that they have their own lifestyle, they're vegetarians, and they felt that they were providing proper care for their child."
The child has been in foster care since November.
The girl is now 20 months old and doctors said she now weighs 20 pounds, still about the normal weight of a 10- to 12-month old baby. Campbell said the girl faces major developmental problems.