Georgia parents accused of killing baby by diluting breast milk

LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga. — Two Georgia parents have been charged with killing their infant daughter by diluting the breast milk they fed her.

Herbert George Landell, 26, and and Lauren Heather Fristed, 25, of Duluth, Ga., were arrested Wednesday, about a month after they brought their emaciated daughter March 25 to Gwinnett Medical Center. Nevaeh Marie Landell, 10 weeks old, was already dead, according to arrest warrants.

Since Nevaeh was born, Landell and Fristed refused to get their daughter medical treatment, police said.

Landell was charged with felony murder and aggravated battery by depriving; Fristed was charged with aggravated battery by depriving, first degree cruelty to children, and second degree cruelty to children. Neither are eligible for bond and remained Thursday in Gwinnett County Jail here.

Watering down the breast milk caused Nevaeh's electrolyte and sodium levels to drop and made her brain swell, according to the warrants. But the detectives' investigation since Nevaeh's death also revealed unsanitary conditions at the couple's apartment.

Babies should not drink water until they are at least 6 months old, said Dr. Sujatha Reddy, a physician at Premier Care for Women in Atlanta and WXIA-TV medical correspondent. Between 6 and 12 months, babies can drink small amounts of water, but no more than 1 to 3 ounces at a time.

However, because water has no nutritional value, babies should drink breast milk or formula first, she said. Signs of water toxicity include grogginess, confusion, drowsiness, twitching and seizures.

More than a quarter of families in poverty reported watering down formula or reducing feedings in a 2011 Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center study conducted at two urban pediatric clinics there. The risk of the practice, known as formula stretching, to babies' developing brains includes problems with behavior, memory and judgment, that study showed.

Pediatric nurses who work with Reddy said a parent should have no medical reason to add water to breast milk meant for a baby.


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