A Sydney naturopath and former nurse, Marilyn Bodnar, has been arrested after it was alleged that her treatment plan almost caused an 8-month-old baby to starve to death.
According to News.com.au, Bodnar, 59 — a self-proclaimed specialist in children’s and parents’ health with 26 years of experience — allegedly advised the mother of the baby boy to stop all medical and dermatological treatment for her son’s eczema. Instead the breastfeeding mother was put on a liquid diet as an alternative health treatment for the eczema. After the mother was put on the liquid diet, the baby lost more than one kilogram in a month. He was admitted to hospital in May, suffering severe malnourishment and developmental issues.
The mother was charged with recklessly causing grievous bodily harm, failing to provide for her baby and causing danger of death. She was granted bail after a court appearance last month.
On Thursday, Child Abuse Squad detectives brought Bodnar up on two charges, one of which was aiding and abetting the mother in failing to provide for the baby. She has also been granted bail and is set to appear in Fairfield Local Court later in July.
The good to come out of this is that the baby survived the ordeal and was released from hospital on Wednesday. But if Bodnar is convicted and found to have been acting irresponsibly and dangerously, it is my hope that appropiate action is taken. However, in my mind, the focus should be on the events that led to this child being harmed. What could have been done differently and what lessons can all parents take away from this?
Firstly, always get a second opinion. And especially when it comes to advice given by alternative practitioners, due to the current regulatory framework not prejudice, a second opinion is a must.
I’d like to think that if somebody (no matter how impressive their title or experience) told me that I should stop eating or that I should stop administering my baby’s medication, I would question their advice and speak with another professional. A baby cannot advocate for itself, which puts a great deal of responsibility on us as parents. It is our duty to ensure that we have done thorough research and understand the implications of anything that affects our babies’ health and wellbeing. Always get a second opinion. Always, always, always.
Furthermore, there’s something to be said for maternal instinct — if it doesn’t look or feel right, then it probably isn’t. This is more of an unsubstantiated belief that I hold: A mother knows when something isn’t right — there’s a special space in her gut designed specifically for that purpose.
I hope that this little boy fully recovers, catches up in his development and has a bright, loving future ahead of him, and that his mother has learned her lesson and will be more prudent in the future.