After her infant son developed severe eczema, the 33-year-old woman from Sydney, Australia, who hasn't been identified, went to a naturopath for help treating his condition. According to the Sydney Morning Herald, this provider of alternative medicine advised the new mom, who is also a maternity ward nurse, to begin a raw food diet.
Marilyn Bodnar eventually told the mom to start a "water-only" diet even though she was exclusively breastfeeding her baby. Despite her and her child's allegedly apparent weight loss, the mom stuck to this new diet and only modified it at one point by eating just watermelon for three days.
The child, who is now 18 months old, was finally taken to the hospital after vomiting for four days. According to magistrate Ian Guy, the child would've died within days without intervention as he was severely dehydrated, emaciated, and weighed roughly 14 pounds upon arrival.
"She was a nurse; she was a nurse who decided to blindly follow this naturopath," said prosecutor Alex Brown, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.
The mom has avoided jail time for her child's starvation and instead received a 14-month suspended sentence after she pleaded guilty to failing to provide for her baby.
"The case against the defendant demonstrates a serious example against her training and against the telltale signs, which would have been blindingly obvious to anyone," said Guy, according to the Daily Mail. "I accept she was following advice. That does not mean that she was somehow seduced, tranced into blindly following."
Police allege that the child could have long-term developmental problems resulting from his starvation, but the mom's defense lawyer, Richard Kouchoo, said that the toddler is making "great progress" during his recovery.