In Italy, a 7-year-old boy died of complications after his parents chose to treat his ear infection with homeopathic medicine. As reported by the Italian daily newspaper Corriere della Sera, his parents have been found guilty of aggravated manslaughter and given a 3-month jail sentence.
The boy’s name was Francesco Bonifazi. He and his parents lived in the northern Italian town of Cagli. He had been diagnosed with an earache, which his parents chose to treat without medicine. The infection spread to his brain and he fell into a coma. He died in the hospital on May 27th, 2017.
The judge in this case sentenced the parents for choosing not to give their son antibiotics, which would have likely cured his ear infection. Instead of giving him antibiotics, they listened to the advice of homeopathic doctor Massimiliano Mecozzi.
Mecozzi’s trial will start on Septemeber 24th. The homeopathic doctor has been accused of negligence and inexperience. It has also been said that he “underestimated the typical clinical picture of a highly serious local infection, prescribing a therapy based on homeopathic medicines in spite of the recrudescence of symptoms.”
According to the child’s grandfather, the boy’s parents did not have a problem with conventional medicine as a whole but had become worried that their child was taking too many antibiotics. According to 2016 research into homeopathy, the popularity of the practice in Italy is quite high, with16% of Italians using homeopathic medicine.
This figure is lower in the United States. Only about 2% of Americans were found to use homeopathic medicine, as was explained in a 2016 article by the American Journal of Public Health.
Homeopathy is a system of alternative medicine that claims substances that cause symptoms of illness in healthy people will cure them in sick people when they are heavily diluted. Invented in 18th century Germany, it still remains popular with some alternative health practitioners despite being debunked by numerous studies, including an Australian study of over 1,800 scientific papers.
The head of the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia hoped that this would help to stop people from putting themselves and others in danger by using homeopathic medicine. However, he also told The Guardian that he is aware that “there will be a tail of people who won’t respond to this report, and who will say it’s all a conspiracy of the establishment.”
Featured image via Corriere della Sera