Sat, May 03, 2014 - Page 3 News List

Malnourished child of eight’s death triggers inquiry

By Rich Chang  /  Staff reporter, with CNA

The case of an eight-year-old girl who allegedly died of malnutrition is being investigated, the Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office said yesterday.

Prosecutors’ office spokesman Huang Mou-hsin (黃謀信) said the girl’s mother sent her daughter to a hospital in Taipei late last month for emergency treatment.

The daughter was rushed to Mackay Memorial Hospital on April 20 without a heartbeat or other signs of life, the hospital said, adding that staff suspected that the girl, who was significantly smaller than children of her age — only 90cm tall and weighing 8kg — had been starved to death.

The hospital reported the case to police.

Huang said prosecutors are probing whether the mother had a part to play in the child’s death.

The mother was quoted by the prosecutors as denying that her daughter went hungry for long periods, but added that she did not make her daughter eat three meals a day.

According to growth charts released by the Ministry of Health and Welfare, the average weight of eight-year-old girls is 25kg with an average height of 1.25m.

The mother said the girl was born prematurely and suffered from slow development.

Medical records show the girl had not visited a doctor since she took several vaccines before turning three, the prosecutors said, adding that the girl was 6kg at two years old, meaning she gained just two kilograms in five years.

Yesterday, the Taipei City Government’s Department of Education said that it would punish personnel responsible after the girl was supposed to have enrolled at school, but failed to do so.

The child was to enroll at Hulu Elementary School in Taipei’s Shilin District (士林) in 2012, but her parents did not send her there.

The school has been criticized for failing to report the situation to the authorities.

Early intervention could probably have prevented the tragedy, Department of Education chief secretary Chen Shun-ho (陳順和) said.

School principal Chi Lu-jen (齊祿禎) said all responsible personnel, including herself, are to be punished.

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