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An illustration made with a figurine set up in front of Facebook's homepage in Paris on May 14, 2012.
An illustration made with a figurine set up in front of Facebook's homepage in Paris on May 14, 2012. Joel Saget—AFP/Getty Images

Australian Woman Poisons Daughter to Get Facebook Attention

Jun 11, 2014
TIME Health
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An Australian mother has been jailed for deliberately poisoning her otherwise healthy 4-year-old daughter with chemotherapy drugs.

Over a nine-month period, the 23-year-old woman used the Internet to procure the cancer treatment drug cyclophosphamide — the lesser side effects of which include hair loss and fertility impairment — and then fed the chemicals to her child, who consequently came to suffer from near-fatal bone-marrow failure, reports AFP.

Her motive, say prosecutors, was attention. As her daughter’s health deteriorated, the woman turned to Facebook to chronicle the ongoing “fight for life,” attempting to evoke sympathy by describing the stricken child's dire need for a bone-marrow transplant.

Although at one point close to death, the girl has since made a good recovery, the court heard, and has been placed in the custody of her grandparents. Her mother, who cannot be named to protect the victim's identity, was sentenced to six years in prison after pleading guilty to grievous bodily harm. The crime carries a maximum penalty of 25 years’ imprisonment in Australia.

According to her legal team, the woman suffered from factitious disorder by proxy, defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders as “the deliberate production or feigning of physical or psychological signs or symptoms in another person who is under the individual’s care.”

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