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Obese Third Grader Removed From His Home: Mother Faces Charges Of Neglect
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Obese Third Grader Removed From His Home: Mother Faces Charges Of Neglect

An eight year old boy in the Cleveland, Ohio area is in foster care, removed from his home after a social services agency petitioned the court. The unnamed third grader was taken to the hospital last year after having some issues with his breathing. While there, he was diagnosed with sleep apnea, a condition that causes a person to stop breathing during the night and can lead to more serious conditions. It is typically seen in people who are overweight or obese and can be marked by loud breathing or excessive snoring at night as well as excessive daytime sleepiness.

Social services stepped in and the boy was sent to Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital to take part in a program there called "Healthy Kids, Healthy Weight". The third grader did lose some weight with that program and was released to his mother with information to continue with his weight loss efforts while at home.

But, according to the Department of Children and Family Services, the boy has regained all of the weight he had previously lost while in the hospital program and now weighs over two hundred pounds. The agency went to Juvenile Court and asked for an order allowing the child to be removed from the mother's custody. Charges of medical neglect are also going to be filed against the mother.

An opinion pieces published in the journal of the American Medical Association and written by the nation's leading pediatric obesity expert, Dr. David Ludwig caused a public outcry after he penned that children who are obese should be removed from their parent's care and placed in foster care. The debate about what constituted medical neglect and where the children would be sent left many people angry and others afraid for their own family.

In 2009, a fourteen year old boy was removed from his mother's care. That boy was over five hundred pounds when his mother, Jerri Gray, was arrested and charged with a felony count of child endangerment. With the obesity numbers, other states are investigating the laws they have on their own books and considering changes that might be needed.

For the eight year old in Cleveland and his mother, a hearing will be held in December, on the child's ninth birthday to determine if he will remain in foster care or be allowed to come back home to live. Ohio officials believe this to be the first case where a child has been removed from his home solely based on weight.


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