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Vegan Mom Charged with Child Neglect

When it comes to a child's health, should a doctor have ultimate authority, or should parents have reasonable leeway to make choices? One Florida mom brought attention to this issue when she was charged with child neglect.

Little 12-day old Caleb Markham was dehydrated and lost about 10 percent of his body weight. His mom Sarah Markham, a strict vegan, was breastfeeding. The doctor recommended she take him to the hospital, but she decided to try a vegan soy milk formula first. Hours later, Markham was arrested and her son was taken away from her.

Over the next 5 months of Caleb's life, Markham was allowed limited supervised visitations. Meanwhile, Caleb thrived under his grandparents' care on his vegan formula.

Last week, she faced a judge about custody. The judge threw out the case and returned the baby to Markham. Now, she's trying to get the neglect charges dropped.

"It's absurd," said her attorney, Mark O'Mara, to WFTV. "It's a mom trying to do the best she can, acting as a vegan which she has the entire right to do taking care of her child."

According to the American Pregnancy Association, most infants lose 5 to 10 percent body weight in the days after birth, and most will take up to 2 weeks to regain it. Some will take up to three weeks. American Academy of Pediatrics says "well-planned" vegan diets are healthy for infants.

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