Mum who killed baby ‘thought it was tumour’

Mum who killed baby 'thought it was tumour'
Sufferers of 'pregnancy denial' are unable to understand or accept that they are pregnant, or deal with the reality of giving birth. Photo of woman in tunnel: Shu
A 28-year-old Spanish woman accused of murdering her baby was freed last week when judges in Valencia heard that she suffered from a rare mental disorder known as 'pregnancy denial'.

The court heard how a tragic series of events led to the death of a newborn baby girl to a woman known only as Alba.

Alba, then 26, had not known she was pregnant when she began to feel stomach pains on November 22nd, 2012. Her boyfriend went to the pharmacy to buy painkillers and returned to find that she was still suffering.

The couple called for an ambulance at 10am and Alba phoned a doctor, who told her not to move. Records showed that they called for an ambulance 23 times, plus twice to the Emergency ward of a local hospital,  but no-one came, despite their flat being just 300 metres from an ambulance station.

Alba, who was described by psychologists as "of below-average intellectual capacity" but who had graduated from high school and held a job, then smoked a cigarette to alleviate the pain.

At 2pm she started to bleed and her partner ran, shouting, into the local health clinic demanding to know why an ambulance had not been sent, according to Spanish daily El Pais.

Alba, meanwhile, had noticed "a lump" on her vagina that she believed to be "a tumour" like a friend of hers had recently suffered and tried to remove the "alien body" with a nail file.

She felt something fall onto the bed and saw the baby. When her partner arrived he cut the umbilical cord and wrapped the baby in a blanket. Emergency services arrived moments later to find the mother and child lying in a pool of blood on the bathroom floor.

The baby was still breathing but soon died despite the attention of the medics. A post-mortem found that it had suffered a punctured lung.

Police arrested the woman, believing that the injuries were evidence of "murderous intent" and no-one accepted Alba's story that she had been unaware of her pregnant condition.

But the court heard that she suffered from a rare mental illness, known as pregnancy denial, a "quasi-schizophrenic" condition in which a woman is unable to understand or accept that she is pregnant. Sufferers often have few visible physical signs of pregnancy.

When the baby arrives, sufferers are unable to accept the reality of the situation.

The Spanish prosecutor dropped murder charges and Alba was instead found guilty of involuntary manslaughter due to "diminished mental capacity" which left her "unable to act with necessary diligence."

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