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Mother Sentenced for Trying to Suffocate Infant - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

Mother Sentenced for Trying to Suffocate Infant, Rare Illness Blamed

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A court case where a Minnesota woman was sentenced for trying to suffocate her baby has some questioning a rare mental issue.

Have you heard of Munchausen by Proxy? Munchausen by proxy syndrome (MBPS) is a relatively rare form of child abuse that involves the exaggeration or fabrication of illnesses or symptoms by a primary caretaker.

Also known as "medical child abuse," MBPS was named after Baron von Munchausen, an 18th-century German dignitary known for making up stories about his travels and experiences in order to get attention. "By proxy" indicates that a parent or other adult is fabricating or exaggerating symptoms in a child, not in himself or herself.

MBPS is in the news now that a Minnesota mother accused of trying to suffocate her baby was sentenced in Ramsey County to four months behind bars. 

Katie Lewis admitted she pinched her infant's nose shut until the 5-month-old boy passed out. Judge Judith Tilsen ordered Lewis to get treatment for her diagnosed disorder called Munchausen by proxy. 

The 25-year-old Litchfield, MN woman was also given a suspended sentence of a year and a day and ordered to serve three years of probation.

The St. Paul Pioneer Press says Lewis brought the baby to Children's Hospital in St. Paul after reporting that he would stop breathing, then regain consciousness. Doctors couldn't find anything wrong with the boy. Lewis attempted to suffocate the baby while nurses watched on a video monitor.

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