Horror Show Sunday: Water into Breast Milk

This is one of those stories that you could really feel sorry for, if it wasn’t for the spiritual component.  Lauren Fristed wasn’t producing enough breast milk to feed her newborn daughter Nevaeh and she and her husband were too poor to purchase formula so they made the horrible decision to water down her breast milk to make it last longer, but this just starved her daughter to death.  On the surface, this sounds like a sad story of poverty and to some degree it is, but, of course, there is a religious component.  See, Lauren and her husband George were highly religious and instead of seeking medical or social help, they did what costs so many children their lives, they got on their knees and prayed.

According to a 2011 study performed by the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, about a quarter of poverty-level mothers either ration breast milk or water it down in a mistaken belief that it will make it last longer.  Instead, it harms brain development, leading to problems with behavior, memory and judgment.  In this case, Nevaeh was drinking twice as much water as milk, reducing her electrolytes and sodium levels to drop to dangerous levels, causing her brain to swell.

But instead of doing what any normal parent would do and seek help, Lauren and George refused to see a doctor and instead prayed for God to save their daughter.  They were devout Christians whose religious beliefs had led them to refuse both prenatal and postnatal care.  When a friend bought some postnatal vitamins, Lauren refused to give them to her daughter, saying God would provide.  God did.  God provided a dead kid.

Now you might say that this is a failure of social programs, except it isn’t.  Those programs are in place.  Lauren and George could easily have had proper medical and nutritional support, if their religion hadn’t stopped them from seeking it out. Whatever their financial situation, it wasn’t lack of work that killed their daughter, it was blind faith in an imaginary god and a refusal to avail themselves to the aid that was freely open to them.  That’s why both of them have been charged with murder and they both deserve it.

Unfortunately, I tell far too many of these stories and the parents never admit wrongdoing.  They never understand that turning to God is the wrong thing to do.  God doesn’t save kids, man does.  God doesn’t provide, humans do.  The only thing a belief in God provides are the corpses of children taken unfairly from their parents.  It’s no wonder so many of these stories end up on Horror Show Sunday.

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