Pregnancy

Does ‘Extreme Makeover’ Mom Have Munchhausen By Proxy?

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This is crazy. A few years ago, the Extreme Makeover: Home Edition folks featured a well-meaning family whose daughters had severe immune disorders. They had to wear face masks to guard against simple household toxins and germs. For the show, a team demolished the family’s mold-filled home and replaced it with a state-of-the-art home with top-of-the-line air filtration systems, elevators, solar heated swimming pool, a floor-to-ceiling stone fireplace and a gourmet kitchen. (This is why I always call Extreme Home Makeover “The Crying Show.”)

But the house was too expensive to maintain (a common problem with these Extreme Makeover home renovations). The family moved to Oregon. And that’s where the story gets interesting.

Turns out the girls might not have any of those problems after all. Turns out the mom might suffer from Munchausen by Proxy. The Oregonian has the goods:

Several doctors and a hospital social worker began to question Terri Cerda‘s insistence that her daughters had chronic health problems when tests and examinations indicated otherwise. In January, Dr. Thomas Valvano, an OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital pediatrician who specializes in suspected child abuse and neglect, reported the Cerdas to state child-welfare authorities, and in February, the state took temporary custody of the two girls.

The ensuing case in Clackamas County Circuit Court told a story much different from the one presented on television.

Six doctors testified that Molly, 10, and Maggie, 8, did not live in constant medical peril, as Terri Cerda claimed.

Valvano went further. The Cerda children, he told the judge, were victims of medical child abuse.

Oh is that sad. Parental mental illness always hurts children. If that’s what is happening here, let’s hope the mom can get the help she needs so that the girls can move on to a healthier childhood.

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