JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A 38-year-old Jacksonville woman is charged with child abuse and child neglect after she poisoned a girl in her care, according to investigators.
Shauna Taylor poisoned the girl by giving her iron supplements, which led to liver failure, authorities said. The incident happened in 2013 in an Arlington home off St. Johns Bluff Road.
According to the arrest warrant, Taylor took the girl to the hospital multiple times and doctors were unable to identify why the girl was sick. No age was listed for the girl.
Ultrasounds of the girl’s liver showed abnormalities, and blood tests turned up the high levels of iron. Investigators said that once Taylor realized she was under suspicion, she stopped giving the girl the iron supplement, causing her liver function to return to normal.
Taylor has been diagnosed with Munchausen by proxy syndrome (MBPS) after being examined by three medical professionals.
MBPS, a mental illness also known as “medical child abuse,” is a rare form of child abuse or neglect caused by a primary caregiver who falsifies, exaggerates or induces a child’s illness, leading to unnecessary and potentially harmful medical treatment.
Dr. Lynn Wadelton, a clinical psychologist with First Coast Therapy Group, said it’s very hard to treat MBPS because many times the patient doesn’t want to believe he or she has a problem.
“In Munchausen by proxy, the parents, or whoever they are, do a variety of things. Whatever they do they’re trying to manipulate the situation to make a child appear sick, generally speaking, to get medical attention,” Wadelton said. “The parent in some way enjoys the feeling they get when the child is in the hospital sick and being cared for.”
The arrest warrant indicates Taylor was under suspicion of doing the same thing in two other states years ago. Taylor was extradited to Jacksonville from New York last week and is being held on $250,000 bond.
In a similar case in 2002, Amanda Butler was charged with the murder of her daughter due to MBPS. Butler pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 40 years in prison.