Saturday

Destination: Heartbreak Hurricane Katrina-part 3


photo by Jessie McClain
Louisiana justice system gave Tiffany Woods and Emmanuel Scott life imprison with no chance for parole. Ignorance of infant feeding and not accessing the medical system is no excuse in Louisiana. Although one might call this a "catch-22" system. Most Americans are ignorant of the dangers of feeding infant formula or other artificial milks to babies. But that is no excuse in a court of law--despite the fact that almost everyone else is as ignorant. Recently, I was talking to a mother who had her babies in the 70's. She told me that her one baby could not tolerate the infant formula, so she went to 2% cow's milk. Her baby survived and is an adult with her own children. It was her pediatrician's recommendation that she switch. But this was back in the 70's and we were ignorant then (even the pediatricians). This mother told me that this child she had in the 70's, as an adult has had severe allergic reactions to food--passing out and being hospitalized. No connection was made between how this baby of the 70's was fed and her allergic reactions as an adult. I have seen over the years a variety of interesting substances in baby bottles-coca cola, etc. So there is alot of ignorant people out in the world, who could potentially be judged to be abusive to their infants.
Tiffany Woods' baby, Emmanuel, was 3 pounds at birth. In the WIC Program, he would have been categorized as very low birth weight (VLBW) and considered at high risk for nutritional deficiency. According to the WIC manual on counseling protocol for premature/low birth weight babies, he would have been at "increased risk for 'failure-to-thrive' (FTT)" He would have been at increased risk for aversive feeding behaviors-disorganized or dysfunctional suck. Tiffany had an infant that was at high risk for failure-to-thrive. Was she able to access a health care system that had been swamped with evacuees? Did she refuse to get help or were any attempts made at accessing the health care system so difficult that she gave up?
I recently read a myspace blog dated 7/18/08 by a woman from Shreveport, Louisiana entitled, "Idiots with the WIC program." She talks about a woman who went to WIC (newborn baby, mother not working, father recently fired from job) to get assistance in obtaining formula. According to this blogger, the mother was told that she would have to wait 2 months until she could get assistance. So what will this mother do? Feed the infant cow's milk? Waterdown what formula she could buy? And if she does this and her infant dies, will she and the father be sent to prison? Who takes the responsibility for infant feeding tragedies? Should parents be responsible for their ignorance? Might one believe that in a just society, it is the community's responsibility? It would seem that the healthcare system in Shreveport is broken because of a storm named Katrina. How does a city's healthcare system survive the influx of thousands of people in need? How would any city cope with this problem?
Who should be made legally responsible for the rising infant mortality in the South? The court system of Shreveport has determined that individuals are responsible.
Copyright 2008 Valerie W. McClain

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