A Pennsylvania mother who was following an extreme diet faced criminal charges this week for allegedly starving her infant.
An investigation into Elizabeth Hawk’s parenting style revealed that the 33-year-old mother wasn’t feeding her 11-month-old son sufficiently, reported CBS Pittsburgh.
Hawk, who follows a form of strict vegan diet, placed those same parameters on her son, only feeding the child fruits and nuts. The diet left the child severely underweight, which concerned his father and Hawk’s estranged husband Jerry.
Jerry took the child to a local Child And Youth Services agency, and from there the baby was rushed to Ruby Memorial Hospital in West Virginia. A medical examination found that the boy was developmentally delayed, as a result of his improper diet. The baby was also at a “failure to thrive” level.
The father’s sister, Brandy, said she grew increasingly concerned about the infant’s deteriorating health, and when she confronted Elizabeth with her worries, the young mother chalked it up to allergies.
“He had a severe rash,” said the suspect’s sister-in-law. “It was his motor skills; he couldn’t use his hands at all.”
According to WebMD, 11-month-olds are normally actively exploring their environment through touch and are walking with the help of parents guidance or independently.
The boy’s rash and weakened immune system made him more susceptible to septic shock, doctors said.
Brandy said Elizabeth has a skewed view of nutrition, stating, “She was going to live on water and sunlight.”
The boy, whose condition is said to have improved, is now living with his father along with the couple’s two other children.
Elizabeth Hawk, of Fayette County, was charged on Oct. 4 with endangering the welfare of a child. She was released on her own recognizance and is scheduled to attend a preliminary hearing in November.
Earlier this year, another Pennsylvania couple was charged in the death of their 23-month-old toddler after autopsy results determined the young girl died of starvation.
Uniontown residents Andrea Dusha, 26, and Michael Wright Jr., 32, were charged with criminal homicide, child endangerment, and reckless endangerment in the death of Lydia Wright.
The medical examiner determined Wright weighed 10 pounds—less than half the recommended weight for a child her age—at the time of her death in February. A search of the couple’s home uncovered deplorable conditions, including garbage strewn on the floor, no running water or sewage system, feces in the bathtub, and open bottles of pills.
The couple’s two other children—a 3-year-old and a 5-year-old—were not malnourished, but were subject to the same living conditions.
The parents are in jail and face the death penalty.