The parents of two children found severely malnourished in August have been arrested on suspicion of felony child abuse, Phoenix police said.
The then 22-month-old son and 3-year-old daughter of Lourdes Frausto, 22, and her boyfriend, Erinn Bruer, 24, were taken to Phoenix Children's Hospital on Aug. 28 after Child Protective Services found them weak and malnourished. Bruer is the biological father of both children.
Their son weighed just shy of 15 pounds and was 27 inches tall while the daughters weighed 26 pounds and in just the 38 percentile for height in her age group. Hospital officials said both were extremely thin with poor muscle mass, weak and suffering from vitamin deficiencies, according to a Phoenix police officer's probably cause statement.
The parents told officials they instituted a rigorous diet of fruits and vegetables only for their children about a year earlier and eliminating meats, dairy and processed foods, according to the statement.
While acknowledging the children were thin, the parents did not express concern of their children's conditions, the statement said.
Officers searched the parents' apartment and found rotten fruit in the refrigerator and potatoes and beans in cabinets among bug feces, according to the statement.
The parents initially selected the children's diets while they were hospitalized, but due to the lack of weight gain over time, the adults' parental privileges were lifted and both required a security escort out of the hospital, according to the statement.
Medical professionals said the boy displayed language delays, appearing to be at an approximate developmental age of 15 months, and language therapy was recommended. Both children were placed in foster care.
The boy improved to 26 pounds and 32" tall with a "normal" appetite and was eating from all food groups on Feb. 14, according to the statement.
The daughter's weight increased to nearly 40 pounds and was 39" tall and was also eating a balanced diet, according to the statement.
Doctors told investigators the son suffered more from the restrictive diet because the daughter was able to forage food for herself, according to the report.
The foster mother said it took six months to break the girl from eating the family cat's food, according to the report.
The family reported both children were lethargic and weak when placed in their care, but had improved developmentally and were active, according to the statement.
Police detained and arrested the parents Monday, and Bruer said placing the children on the restrictive diet was wrong while Fraust said that since the children were removed from their car she researched how to supplement nutrients while maintaining a vegan lifestyle.
Both were booked into jail on two counts of felony child abuse.
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