Police: Casselberry mom refused to take dehydrated baby to hospital because of vegan beliefs



CASSELBERRY, Fla. - Detectives in Casselberry said a mother is facing charges after refusing to take her newborn to the hospital because of her vegan beliefs.

Investigators said Sarah Markham's pediatrician told her the baby was dehydrated and needed to go to the hospital as soon as possible.

Markham's family told Channel 9 she wanted to get a second opinion about her baby's condition with a holistic doctor, but Casselberry police said the 13-day-old infant was in imminent danger, so they arrested Markham on child neglect charges seven hours later when she failed to show up at the hospital.

Doctors say newborn babies lose about 5 percent of their weight after leaving the hospital. Makham's family said her child lost about double that, but the mother was concerned about the type of formula he would get at the hospital, so she didn’t take him.

"Our No. 1 priority is to make sure that person or that child is OK and that their life isn't in jeopardy," said Cpl. Kristine Pamatian. "It was imminent the child needed to have this medical attention, so we have to go on the information at the time, and that's where we would be in making decisions."

According to her arrest report, Markham is a Seventh Day Adventist and believes in holistic health. She had been feeding the baby organic soy formula and was concerned about what her baby might be fed in the hospital.

"She didn't want her child ingesting anything with animal bi-products," said Pamatian. "She wanted a second opinion with a holistic doctor."

The baby was taken to a local hospital where it is currently being cared for. Once it's released, it will go into protective custody, officials said.