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Mother arrested on suspicion of starving 2-year-old girl to ‘weight of newborn’

Hospital staff grew suspicious as underweight child failed to gain weight, caught woman removing feeding tube; doctor calls it ‘worst abuse case we’ve experienced in recent years’

General view of Ichilov Medical Center in Tel Aviv, on November 10, 2020. (Yossi Aloni/Flash90)
General view of Ichilov Medical Center in Tel Aviv, on November 10, 2020. (Yossi Aloni/Flash90)

A woman in her thirties has been arrested on suspicion of abusing her two-year-old daughter after the underweight child was brought to a Tel Aviv hospital suffering from spasms, in a case doctors called “one of the worst” abuse cases seen in recent years.

According to Hebrew media reports, the girl was brought to the hospital several weeks ago but attempts to get her to gain weight were unsuccessful. Workers then began monitoring the mother and observed her disconnecting the child from a nasogastric tube used to feed her.

Police were called and found the mother to be in possession of various drugs, apparently given to the child, which she should not have been receiving.

“This is the worst abuse case we’ve experienced in recent years at the hospital,” said Dr. Ayelet Rimon, head of pediatric emergency medicine at Ichilov. “The girl still weighs like a newborn. We don’t know what future damage she may suffer.”

The mother was arrested on Wednesday, and on Thursday, a judge remanded her in custody for three more days as the case is investigated.

A police official at the remand hearing said that there is suspicion that the child was a victim of Munchausen syndrome by proxy, in which a caregiver creates a medical problem or the appearance of one in another person in order to gain attention.

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