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A young Sydney mother who was seeking attention when she repeatedly drugged her toddler with anticonvulsive medication and took him to hospital has been jailed for at least three years.
The little boy endured numerous painful medical procedures after his mother secretly administered Tegretol and lied to doctors saying he had suffered seizures, Judge David Arnott said in the District Court on Friday.
The now 22-year-old admitted seven counts of administering an intoxicating substance to her 18-month-old son so as to endanger his life and being reckless about causing him harm.
In sentencing her to six years jail with a non-parole period of three years, Judge Arnott referred to the need for deterrence as this type of child abuse was difficult to detect.
But he also noted her mental health problems which included a factitious disorder", previously known as Munchausen syndrome by proxy - and borderline personality disorder.
Very early in her spate of offending, a pediatrician told her to stop administering the Tegretol which had been used after her false report of seizures.
But she then took the toddler to emergency departments and other medical centres more than 20 times again reporting he had seizures, while the medication left him drowsy and sometimes almost unconscious.
She stayed with him during his admissions and twice administered the Tegretol to him in the bathroom.
Staff noticed she often displayed no concern about her son's condition, which improved when the medication wore off.
After her arrest when her access was restricted, the boy did not suffer any seizures or epileptic events and is now being looked after by his father and paternal relatives.
The judge noted the woman knew what she was doing was reckless, did it deliberately and not as a spontaneous loss of control and the victim "was a young infant, only 18 months, of extreme vulnerability".
While acknowledging her mental health issues, the judge spoke out about using her infant child in this way "no matter how deep the craving for attention".
Her history included self-harming and a psychiatrist said her harming of her son may have been an extension of her own harming tendencies.
The woman now deeply regrets her actions and her prospects of rehabilitation are reasonable, the judge said.