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Wis. couple arrested for allegedly starving infant daughter in fear of obesity

Christopher and Mary Sultze AP Images

(CBS/AP) MADISON, Wis. - A Wisconsin couple starved their infant daughter for months, worried that she would become obese, police say.

Christopher and Mary Sultze were charged this month with felony count child neglect and each faces a year in prison and a $25,000 fine if found guilty.

Prosecutors allege the baby girl gained only 5 pounds in the 14 months after her birth. She was born in July 2010, weighing slightly over 8 pounds, and was only 13 pounds in September. Doctors told police the girl would have to weigh 22 pounds to even appear on the growth charts for her age, and that she had no subcutaneous fat, meaning she was essentially starving.

Christopher Sultze, 35, appeared in Court on Thursday, and was released from jail on bond, on the condition that he would have no contact with his daughter. He will be back in court for a preliminary hearing next week.

Mary Sultze, 36, waived her right to preliminary hearing Wednesday so she could tend to her other three children, said her attorney. She was also ordered to have no contact with the girl.

Mary Sultze's lawyer, Brandt Swardenski said that she "has serious reservations about whether there's any criminal activity here or just misguided parenting intentions. This is a case where we need to reserve judgment until we learn more details on exactly what occurred."

Neither of the parents have entered a plea.

Doctors began noticing and tracking the baby's lack of growth and weight gain after her four-month checkup in Nov. 2010. She weighed just 7 pounds, 9 ounces. The parents became irritated that doctors were constantly worried about their daughter's weight, the criminal complaint said. They insisted they were feeding her enough and that she would gain weight in time.

In August, the family's doctor convinced the couple to bring the girl to a Children's hospital for an evaluation, police said. There, she gained 8 ounces a day, and social worker noticed the parents upset by recommendations that they needed to feed their child more.

According to the complaint, Christopher Sultze told a doctor he didn't want to have obese children and kept insisting the girl would "get fat" at the hospital.