Mother charged with hurting baby; Munchausen Syndrome by proxy?

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Thursday, April 7, 2011

Tucson, Arizona police say that Blanca Montano, 21, an Arizona mother, was arrested and charged with child abuse on Tuesday for purposely injuring her seven-month-old daughter. Hospital staff reported Montano to authorities after the child was found to be suffering from nine separate, rare infections which became worse after the mother's visits.

Investigation by police determined that Montano had knowingly poisoned her child and made her sick. Montano was then prevented from visiting and the child noticeably improved.

Cquote1.svg "[Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy] ... is not a mental illness. It is a form of abuse, just like sexual abuse, physical abuse and emotional abuse – it's just a variant. Cquote2.svg

—Dr. Marc Feldman, psychiatrist, University of Alabama

Montano hospitalized her two children at University Medical Center in Tucson in February where they were diagnosed and treated for an infection. While one child improved and was released, her infant daughter became increasingly sick and was significantly worse following visits from her mother. Suspecting that the mother was exhibiting symptoms of a rare condition known as Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy, in which a mother intentionally harms her child to obtain attention or sympathy for herself, hospital officials contacted police and set up a hidden camera in the infant's room.

Police say that when the mother realized that there was a camera in the hospital room, she covered the child's crib with a towel.

KOLD News 13 obtained a search warrant which said doctors "believe that Blanca is giving her daughter something to make her sick. They indicated the ingestion of feces could cause the infections."

Dr Marc Feldman, a psychiatrist at the University of Alabama, says that Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy is not a psychiatric disorder. "It is not a mental illness. It is a form of abuse, just like sexual abuse, physical abuse and emotional abuse – it's just a variant," he said.

Montano is out on $50,000 bail and will next appear in court on April 15.


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