SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – A Shreveport couple is behind bars, charged with child cruelty after police say they made a “gruesome discovery” in their west Shreveport home.

According to SPD, patrol officers were called to the home in the 3800 block of Larue Street on Monday after EMS crews responding to a medical emergency at the home found a severely malnourished three-year-old child. Police say the child was in poor health and weighed just eleven pounds.

Police say the child’s parents, 30-year-old Ietadterneisha Marshall and 35-year-old Derrick George, were taken to the Shreveport police complex for questioning. After interviews, they were both booked into the Shreveport City jail on one count each of second-degree cruelty to a Juvenile.

“It’s hard to believe he’s still alive at this point,” said Dr. Jennifer Seidenberg, MD, Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at Ochsner LSU Health Shreveport. “An average baby is born around seven pounds and would double their weight by about five months of age. So eleven pounds would be at like the size of a 2 to 3-month average baby.”

It will take months for the child to be nourished back to a healthy weight. The neglect could have lasting health impacts.

“He could have long-term learning disabilities from severe malnutrition at that early age, so that could stunt his brain development,” Seidenberg said. “He probably has multiple vitamin deficiencies, being that underweight as well, so it can cause skin and hair changes, swelling of his hands and feet. Probably the bones aren’t very strong, so I doubt a child that malnourished would even be crawling or walking.”

Although many parents postponed pediatrician check-ups during the height of the pandemic, it doesn’t seem to be applicable in this case.

“It’s hard to imagine a scenario where you’re three years old, so this child was born before the pandemic. So they should’ve been getting medical care before that age,” Seidenberg explained. “And if there’s food insecurity there, there’s resources obviously locally to help you get the food you need. So I can’t think of a scenario in this country where you wouldn’t be able to feed your baby and toddler.”

If the child had not been found by Shreveport Police, the outcome could have been much different.

“Death was definitely a potential for him if he hadn’t been found. So I’m glad that he has been found and obviously he’s going to need to be watched closely as he’s re-nourished,” Seidenberg said.

The gender of the child is unknown. SPD says DCFS was contacted and the investigation is ongoing.

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