A naturopath will serve a maximum of 14 months behind bars after she advised a breastfeeding mother to follow a liquid-only diet, which nearly killed her eight-month-old baby.
Sydney naturopath Marilyn Pauline Bodnar was sentenced on Thursday after pleading guilty to one count of aiding and abetting the mother in failing to provide the necessities of life, The Guardian reports.
The mother, who cannot be named for legal reasons, visited Bodnar on a series of occasions in Leppington in 2015. The court heard the naturopath told the woman to stop conventional medical and dermatological treatments to help cure the boy’s eczema.
Bodnar told the breastfeeding mother to follow a raw food only diet, and later recommended she consume water only.
The severely malnourished and dehydrated baby was admitted to Westmead hospital in May 2015 weighing just 6.5kg. Police say the boy was "just days" from death, the ABC reports.
"Well-intentioned but seriously misguided advice is … capable of causing great harm and even death to vulnerable children," Judge Peter Berman said during sentencing.
"There is no doubt that she is a caring and well-meaning individual and that her intentions in providing advice to [the child's] mother were based on what she believed to be some connection between [his] eczema and the mother's diet.
"But once it became clearly apparent that there was a risk of harm to [the child] through the mother following her advice, it was a serious criminal thing to do to ignore the effect of her advice on [the child's] well-being."
Bodnar’s defence team says the naturopath has vowed to never work with children again and deeply regrets her actions.
“She feels crushed, she has been punished," Lawyer Rick Mitry said of the social media backlash Bodnar has experienced since her arrest.
November 4 is the earliest date the disgraced naturopath could be released from prison.
This article originally appeared on Marie Claire.