Skip Navigation LinksHome > September 2010 - Volume 51 - Issue 3 > Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy: Ongoing Clinical Challenges
Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology & Nutrition:
doi: 10.1097/MPG.0b013e3181e33b15
Invited Reviews

Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy: Ongoing Clinical Challenges

Squires, Janet E*; Squires, Robert H Jr

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In 1977, Roy Meadow, a pediatric nephrologist, first described a condition he subsequently coined Munchausen syndrome by proxy. The classic form involves a parent or other caregiver who inflicts injury or induces illness in a child, deceives the treating physician with fictitious or exaggerated information, and perpetrates the trickery for months or years. A related form of pathology is more insidious and more common but also damaging. It involves parents who fabricate or exaggerate symptoms of illness in children, causing overly aggressive medical evaluations and interventions. The common thread is that the treating physician plays a role in inflicting the abuse upon the child. Failure to recognize the problem is common because the condition is often not included in the differential diagnosis of challenging or confusing clinical problems. We believe that a heightened “self-awareness” of the physician's role in Munchausen syndrome by proxy will prevent or reduce the morbidity and mortality associated with this diagnosis. In addition, we believe contemporary developments within the modern health care system likely facilitate this condition.

Copyright 2010 by ESPGHAN and NASPGHAN


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