A SWEDISH COUPLE whose baby girl was so undernourished on a vegan diet that she was close to death have been jailed for three months.
The parents – who have not been named to protect the child's identity – were found guilty of gross negligence causing bodily harm after their 18-month-old's strict diet of breast milk, brown rice and potatoes left her hospitalised in an unresponsive critical condition.
Gothenburg District Court heard that the pair's "serious negligence" had "put their daughter in a life-threatening situation" after doctors said she was just hours from death back in February.
One doctor said the "prolonged starvation" suffered by the girl was "worse than anything we have seen at the hospital before".
The child was taken into foster care after around three weeks at Queen Silvia Children's Hospital, and her foster mother told the court that she had recovered well.
Judge Per Norden said that although the couple "did not intentionally harm their daughter", he found some of their views "remarkable" – particularly those of the mother who believed people could survive without food and water with long-term mental and physical training.
The child had never been registered with Swedish authorities nor examined by a doctor or vaccinated, and the parents – who also followed a vegan diet – tended to live with friends, describing themselves as "nomads".
Prosecutor Ximena Bene had pressed for two or three years imprisonment for the couple, whereas their defence lawyers argued it could not be proven that the child's condition was due to anything other than a stomach bug.
But the judge sentenced them to three months in jail for gross negligence causing bodily harm having taken into account the two months they had already spent in custody.
They were also ordered to pay 60,000 kronor (€5,500/£5,000) in damages to their daughter.
The child's father was also sentenced for several other minor crimes including drugs offences and drink-driving.
The parents will be permitted to spend eight weeks living with their baby at a supervised residential care facility for further monitoring by social services.