Originally posted on October 22nd 2013 by Seana Stevenson:
Munchausen by proxy is a syndrome which involves caregivers making children ill on purpose to gain attention. The author of a new study thinks it’s time to change to the name to Caregiver Fabricated Illness so that it’s more reflective of the harm done to the children involved. The alliteration in the title may make this newly released report sound dramatic – but it is nothing to take lightly.
Caregiver-fabricated illness in children or CFIC is a real form of child abusethat is often overlooked and can be deadly. This can occur when a caregiver makes their child believe they are constantly sick, consistently bringing them to the doctors office.
This can – and has – lead to a misdiagnosis, which in turn has killed 6% – 9% and seriously injured or disabled many more. Credit. In her new study co-author Harriet MacMillan, published in the September issue of the journal Pediatrics, has given pediatricians new ways to detect Munchausen by proxy syndrome.
“It’s hard for people to actually conceive that caregivers would fabricate illness,” said MacMillan. “If you think about it, people working with children are basically trained to trust the histories that are provided to them.”
The report co-authored by Northwestern University pediatrician Emalee Flaherty says the most common illnesses include: rashes, allergic reactions, urinary tract infections and vomiting. Caregivers can even go so far as to say their child has been sexual abused.
Right now the problem is quite small, approximately 0.5 to two out of every 100,000 (Credit) children are affected by this, but the problem is underreported and real statistics are unavailable.
While the report does not specify a particular type of guardian that does this, it is commonly a mother who works in the healthcare field that is looking for attention from doctors or nurses.
Though the name of the condition is currently Munchausen by proxy syndrome, MacMillan and Flarerty are looking to change the term to help the victims:
“We are saying that we use this particularly terminology because it emphasizes the child’s exposure to risk and harm rather than the motivation of the caregiver who is doing this,” MacMillan said. “People working with children need to recognize this as a kind of child maltreatment.”