Infant (illustrative)
Infant (illustrative) iStock

A 15-month-old infant was hospitalized Thursday in serious condition after being diagnosed with Munchausen by proxy syndrome (MBPS).

The infant, who is hospitalized in Tel Aviv's Ichilov Hospital, is suffering from seizures and is underweight. It is suspected that she was starved by her mother.

The mother was arrested after suspicions were raised that she suffered from Munchausen by proxy syndrome. Those suffering from this syndrome intentionally create harm in an attempt to cause the hospitalization or medical treatment of another individual.

Israel Police are in possession of video clips in which the mother can be seen touching, for no reason, the infant's feeding tube.

"Israel Police has opened an investigation on suspicion of neglect and abuse of a helpless individual, after a report was received from the hospital regarding a young child who was hospitalized due to seizures. According to reports, the hospital staff noticed unusual behavior on the part of the mother, and she was observed via cameras," Israel Police said in a statement.

In her interrogation, the mother denied all connection to what she was being charged with. At the same time, the court has decided to extend her arrest until Sunday.

Dr. Ayelet Rimon, Acting Director of Pediatric Emergency Medicine at Ichilov's Dana-Dwek Children's Hospital, who also serves as chair of the institution's committee for preventing child abuse, said that there is a suspicion of a very serious case of MBPS, and that thanks to the social service and legal department, Israel's welfare services and police were brought into the picture.

Although in the initial interrogation and examination with the family's pediatrician, there seemed to be no reason for investigation, Dr. Rimon did not give in, and with the help of the social services, working closely with the police and prosecutor's office, the mother was arrested and taken for interrogation. Now, thanks to the hospital staff's alacrity, the child has begun to gain weight, and has ceased vomiting. The seizures she suffered from have also ceased.

"This is the most serious case of abuse which we have seen in the hospital in recent years," Dr. Rimon said. "I hope that justice will be done with the child, and that the authorities' actions will be such that will ensure that this abuse ends forever. I was horrified to hear that in the State of Israel, withholding food from an infant is not recognized by all professional bodies as abuse of the most severe kind. Active harm is not the only thing that justifies extreme legal proceedings."

"This is an infant girl who is a year-and-a-half old, who is still newborn weight. We do not know what the future damage she will suffer is, if there is any. And I only hope that she will succeed in recovering and that she will remain without any long-term harm. Now, all of us at 'Dana' hope to see quick improvement in the child, and we hope that from today, she will receive only the most dedicated, personal, loving, and compassionate care, both in the hospital and after her release."

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