Mother feeds daughter tapeworms

By Drum Digital
26 August 2014

We’ve all heard shocking stories about extreme fad diets, but an American mother is now being lambasted in the media for the measures she took to make her daughter lose weight. She secretly fed her tapeworm eggs!

In a recent episode of the medical documentary Untold Stories of the ER, paediatric nurse Maricar Cabral-Osorio explained she initially thought the teenage girl was pregnant as she had a protruding stomach but an ultrasound revealed an empty womb, and then they saw the worms!

“Everyone stood bewildered thinking about how the parasites, which were alive, ended up inside the girl. And then we saw the mother turn white,” Cabral-Osorio says on the programme.

The mom eventually confessed she’d bought a diet pill consisting of tapeworm eggs in Mexico and forced her daughter to take it. “I just did it to make you a little skinnier. You needed some help before we went on to the pageant,” she said to her daughter.

According to Dr Patricia Quinlisk, a preventive medicine specialist from Iowa, tapeworms have been used for nearly 100 years to increase weight loss. “Ingesting tapeworms is extremely risky and can cause a wide range of unstable side effects, including rare deaths.”

The worms attach themselves to the intestinal wall of its host and then absorb nutrients and calories; they can grow up to 30 feet (9 m) long and can live within a host for up to 20 years. It’s not yet known whether the mother will face criminal charges.

-Janine Nel


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