A New Jersey mother is to face a charge of child endangerment after a grand jury indicted her Wednesday.
Malinda Lugin, 36, allegedly convinced doctors to conduct unnecessary and potentially harmful surgery and medical tests on her daughter, who was born in 2007.
A prosecutor alleged that Lugin began the abuse while she was still pregnant with the girl, but no further details were provided.
Lugin is accused of persuading doctors to install a feeding tube for the girl, who was named in court only as LL. The tube fed her on a baby food formula, NJ.com reported.
The abuse continued until April 2014, Assistant Prosecutor Seana Pappas alleged during a June court hearing, Daily Mail reported.
Doctors told authorities about their concerns regarding the child, which prompted an investigation.
Lugin was arrested June 11. She posted bond of $20,000 on June 29 and was released.
Her conduct has been described as an example of Munchausen-by-proxy, according to Daily Mail. This refers to a mental health condition where a carer deliberately fakes a child’s illness so as to draw attention to themselves or win sympathy.
“She gets attention and sympathy because she is perceived as a caring, loving mother,” said psychiatrist Pogos Viskanian, explaining the general characteristics of Munchausen to NJ.com.
Since the condition is a mental health problem, individuals will often convince themselves that they are caring and loving even though the treatments they impose on the child are unnecessary and potentially harmful, Viskanian added.
Munchausen-by-proxy is often caused by physical or sexual abuse suffered by perpetrators during their childhood, NJ.com reported.
Lugin can currently only see her child under supervision.
If Lugin is found guilty, she will face a prison term of between five and 10 years.
Attempts to contact Lugin’s attorney for comment did not produce a response, Daily Mail reported.