Mother gave tot medicine overdose

A MOTHER who "seemed excited her son was sick" prolonged his illness in hospital by giving him extra medication, despite being told to stop by doctors.

The 23-year-old Ipswich woman deliberately gave her three-year-old son the powerful anti-convulsant Tegretol while he was in hospital being treated with a similar medication.

Ipswich District Court heard the boy became sick with vomiting and decreased consciousness because of the toxic mix of the two drugs.

Nursing staff at the hospital said the woman "seemed excited and happy her son was sick", and the day before he was discharged from hospital she told staff "tomorrow will be a bad day".

The woman's defence argued she was suffering depression and Factitious Disorder by Proxy, a condition where a person deliberately produces, feigns or exaggerates symptoms of a person who is in their care.

The disorder was formerly known as Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy.

The court heard the mother, a childcare worker, had been taking her son to the doctor in 2009 because she said she saw him having seizures.

Medical experts couldn't work out what was wrong with the boy, and he was admitted to the Mater Children's Hospital on December 21, 2009.

Doctors told the mother to stop giving him Tegretol because they were instead treating him with Epilim, another powerful drug used to treat seizures and epilepsy.

Despite what the doctors said, the mother gave him Tegretol on five separate occasions, causing the boy's condition to worsen.

The court heard he started vomiting and losing consciousness as a consequence of the overdose.

The boy eventually became well enough to leave and was discharged on January 15 last year.

Defence barrister Andrew West told the court his client had had a difficult time during her pregnancy and "was overwhelmed by parental responsibility" in the months after the child was born.

"She presents as someone young for her age ... she is very young in some of her life skills," Mr West said.

Mr West said the woman used to be a childcare worker but due to the charges, her blue card was suspended and she was now trying to pursue a career in the aged care industry.

Mr West told the court the mother now had one supervised visit with her child for three hours a week.

"She is coping better domestically," he said.

Judge Sarah Bradley said Factitious Disorder by Proxy was not recognised as a disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

"If offers very little guidance to the court in terms of an explanation," Judge Bradley said.

"It is a way of trying to explain the inexplicable."

Judge Bradley said while the case was sad and disturbing, there was no suggestion the woman posed a risk to other children in the community or that she had given her son the medication maliciously.

The woman was originally charged with poisoning and torture, but this was reduced to one count of cruelty to children under the age of 16.

The woman, who pleaded guilty on Friday, was sentenced to three years probation with no conviction recorded.



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