-- Robert Preidt
MONDAY, Aug. 26 (HealthDay News) -- Parents sometimes fabricate
an illness in children, and doctors and other health care providers
need to be on the lookout for this type of child abuse, experts
"It is probably more common than we realize" and often goes unrecognized, Dr. Harriet MacMillan, a pediatrician and child psychiatrist at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, said in a university news release.
Although the occurrence is relatively rare, the death rate for
children in such cases in 6 percent to 9 percent, with similar
rates of permanent injury and long-term disability, said MacMillan,
who conducts family violence research.
MacMillan co-authored a paper in the September issue of the
Pediatricsthat is meant to improve doctors' understanding of
this issue, which has long been referred to as Munchausen syndrome
Doctors should be suspicious when they see a child with a
persistent or recurrent illness that can't be explained, especially
when their signs or symptoms don't seem believable. There is no
typical fabricated illness, and a parent might bring their child in
for treatment of all types of problems, including bleeding,
seizures, urinary tract infections or
"It really comes down to conducting a very careful history and physical examination, with an emphasis on communication with all health care providers who have seen the child," MacMillan said. "It's important that we are thorough in seeking comprehensive information about contact with health care providers, while adhering to privacy legislation."
Communication among health care providers is critical because a
child could be seen in many different settings.
"This is the type of condition where it is essential for clinicians to review medical records and speak with other health care providers to have complete information in conducting their assessment," MacMillan said.
The U.S. National Library of Medicine has more about
Munchausen syndrome by proxy.
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