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... We encourage pediatricians to avoid thinking about MCA and routine care seeking in a binary way that focuses on identifying abusers. 6 Uncovering a case of MCA can feel triumphal, but the physical and psychological damage to the child has been done and successful reunification of the abused child and abusive parent is rare. 7 In contrast, thinking about MCA as an extreme point on a continuum of overmedicalization can help pediatricians appreciate the ways that parents move along the continuum over time and can bring attention to the harms to a child's growth and development that can occur even in cases that do not rise to the level of reportable abuse. ...
... Notes should precisely specify who is reporting on behalf of the child, who observed symptoms, and what exactly was observed. 6 A note stating "patient had an episode in the office" could misleadingly imply that someone other than the parent witnessed the event. Just a few more words (eg, "but neither the nurse nor I saw this") can greatly reduce misunderstandings. ...
... In more complex cases, a home health nurse might be dispatched to observe the condition and care of the child in the home, or the child can be admitted for observation. 6 3. Resist requests to depart from standard care. The risks of unsubstantiated diagnoses or unnecessary care cannot be justified by the benefits of satisfying parents' demands. ...
Media and clinical case reports of medical child abuse (MCA; also known as caregiver-fabricated illness¹) depict dramatic examples of severe child maltreatment. Absent from these reports are accounts of how these cases develop. Recent commentaries have noted the challenges of caring for children with chronic somatic symptoms and the insidious processes through which children’s lives become overmedicalized by well-meaning pediatricians.²,3 In this Viewpoint, we aim to reinforce these important points by explaining how overmedicalization can escalate into MCA.
... FDIA should be suspected if the caregiver fabricates a history of illness, exaggerates a real disease, or underreports signs/symptoms. The paediatrician should recognize common behaviour patterns, such as seeking alternate medical opinions, resisting reassurance that the child is healthy or reporting unexplained signs/symptoms (1,2,10). ...
... Physicians are in a critical position to prevent future maltreatment because harm to the child is often iatrogenic (12). If the child appears well and not at risk of serious injury, physicians should follow closely and limit extensive investigations to reduce harm (10). ...
... A common strategy to diagnose FDIA and MAL-BP is converging multiple sources to corroborate or discredit reported signs/symptoms or illness (10,11). In this case, contact with day care workers was most beneficial as they had frequent contact with our patient and his mother and could validate the physician's suspicion. ...
Factitious disorder imposed on another (FDIA) and malingering by proxy (MAL-BP) are two forms of underreported child maltreatment that should remain on physicians’ differential. This case of a 2-year-old boy, which spans 6 years, reveals the complexity in and difficulties with diagnosis. Key features include the patient’s mother using advanced medical jargon to report multiple disconnected concerns and visits to numerous providers. As a result, the patient underwent many investigations which often revealed normal findings. FDIA was suspected by the paediatrician, especially following corroboration with the child’s day care and past primary health care provider. This case demonstrates the possible overlap in diagnoses, which are characterized by a lack of consistent presentation and deceitful caregivers, often complicated by true underlying illness. The authors use clinical experience and limited existing literature to empower paediatricians to confidently diagnose and report FDIA and MAL-BP to limit future harm to children.
In fabricated or induced illness (FII), a child is harmed due to caregiver(s) behaviour and actions, carried out to convince mainly doctors that the child’s physical and/or psychological health is more impaired than in reality. Harm is caused directly by the caregivers(s) and also often inadvertently by doctors’ responses.
To describe: dynamics underlying FII; wider definition of FII; alerting signs for early recognition of possible FII; respective responsibilities of health, social care, education.
Literature review, clinical experience, expert opinion.
Results and conclusions
Caregivers are motivated by gain from having their child treated as ill, and/or by erroneous beliefs about their child's health, either way needing medical confirmation about their contentions. Their behaviour is therefore directed primarily towards doctors. Most cases of FII present unexplained discrepancies between caregiver reports/actions and independent observations of the child. More rarely, the child has actual signs of illness, induced by the caregiver, occasionally fatal.
Children are harmed in all aspects of life: health, daily functioning including education, and psychologically. Harm emanates directly from the caregiver(s) but also unintentionally from medical responses.
Illness induction and clear deception by the caregiver require immediate child protection. Otherwise, the initial focus is on assessing the child’s current health and functioning rather than caregiver's mental health. If, beyond verified illness, there is no medical explanation for the child’s reported ill-health, the family require help to function better. This requires co-ordinated, multidisciplinary rehabilitation and long-term monitoring. If caregivers refuse rehabilitation, child protection is required. Several unanswered questions remain.
Child psychological maltreatment (PM), also known as emotional abuse and neglect, mental violence, and emotional maltreatment, is the least recognized and addressed of the four major forms of child maltreatment.
This article provides an 1) the history of PM and its relationship to children's rights, 2) an overview of the current state of knowledge, 3) implications of diversity for the topic of PM, 4) an example of a topic-relevant intervention, and 5) a vision for further progress in addressing this form of child maltreatment.
Participants and settings
Literature review, intervention description of fabricated or induced illness, and expert opinion.
PM is directly implicated in seven of the articles of the Convention. PM is common, reliable definitions of PM exist and need to be applied to practice and public health surveillance, harmfulness has been empirically established but is not fully appreciated, and countries vary dramatically in terms of incidence.
PM is a human rights issue that must be addressed through child protection and promotion of child wellbeing. Adoption of reliable definitions of the different aspects of PM for Child Protective Service practice is a top policy goal. The development of empirically supported curricula on PM for training professionals and parents and culturally sensitive interventions to change social norms on the use of psychologically aggressive disciplinary practices and other forms of PM are critical research needs. Well-validated interventions to support quality parent-child relationships and support families exist and need to be widely adopted. Individual child protective measures should be confined to cases of ongoing serious PM when interventions have failed to reduce harm to the child.
Classifying the disorders associated with burdensome somat- ic concerns has been a challenging exercise in psychiatric nosology. The classifications of these conditions in ICD-10 and DSM-IV have not fared much better than earlier attempts. Even though not exactly identical, these classifications were broadly similar and criticisms of either system are therefore generally applicable to both. Among the most salient criticisms are those relating to their utility in routine clinical practice. These include the rarity of the major categories of the group, both in the community and in general clinical practice, as well as the evidence suggesting poor diagnostic reliability.
Münchausen Syndrome by Proxy (MSBP) is a psychiatric disorder characterised by the adoption of bizarre behavioural-patterns by caregivers in which diseases or disorders are fabricated in individuals, usually children, for purposes which span feelings of superiority derived from deceit of persons deemed superior to the caregiver, or attention seeking. The patient under discussion was a 6 year old male brought to the hospital by his mother with complaints of repetitive and unceasing passing of stones per urethra. Upon inspection of stone specimens brought in by the parents and physical examination, the stones in question were observed to be common stones, with no reason to suggest a urolithiatic origin, leading to the suspicion of MSBP. Further questioning of both the mother and father revealed more information regarding the cause of her child's illness and strongly suggested that the stones were being physically inserted into the child's urethra by the mother--often in the father's absence--after administration of sedative-hynotic drugs.
Caregiver-fabricated illness in a child is a form of child maltreatment caused by a caregiver who falsifies and/or induces a child's illness, leading to unnecessary and potentially harmful medical investigations and/or treatment. This condition can result in significant morbidity and mortality. Although caregiver-fabricated illness in a child has been widely known as Munchausen syndrome by proxy, there is ongoing discussion about alternative names, including pediatric condition falsification, factitious disorder (illness) by proxy, child abuse in the medical setting, and medical child abuse. Because it is a relatively uncommon form of maltreatment, pediatricians need to have a high index of suspicion when faced with a persistent or recurrent illness that cannot be explained and that results in multiple medical procedures or when there are discrepancies between the history, physical examination, and health of a child. This report updates the previous clinical report "Beyond Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy: Identification and Treatment of Child Abuse in the Medical SETTING:" The authors discuss the need to agree on appropriate terminology, provide an update on published reports of new manifestations of fabricated medical conditions, and discuss approaches to assessment, diagnosis, and management, including how best to protect the child from further harm.
Fabricated or induced illness (previously known as Munchausen syndrome by proxy) takes place when a caregiver elicits health care on the child's behalf in an unjustified way. Although the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders specifies deception as a perpetrator characteristic, a far wider range is encountered clinically and is included in this Review. We describe the features of fabricated or induced illness, its effect on the child, and the psychosocial characteristics of caregivers and their possible motives. Present evidence suggests that somatoform and factitious disorders are over-represented in caregivers, with possible intergenerational transmission of abnormal illness behaviour from the caregiver to the child. Paediatricians' early recognition of perplexing presentations preceding fabricated or induced illness and their management might obviate the development of this disorder. In cases of fully developed fabricated or induced illness, as well as protection, the child will need help to return to healthy functioning and understand the fabricated or induced illness experience. Management of the perpetrator is largely dependent on their capacity to acknowledge the abusive behaviour and collaborate with helping agencies. If separation is necessary, reunification of mother and child is rare, but can be achieved in selected cases. More collaborative research is needed in this specialty, especially regarding close study of the characteristics of women with somatoform and factitious disorders who involve their children in abnormal illness behaviour. We recommend that general hospitals establish proactive networks including multidisciplinary cooperation between designated staff from both paediatric and adult mental health services.
Three recently diagnosed cases of caregiver-fabricated illness in a child at Seattle Children's Hospital shed light on a new manifestation of their caretakers' attention seeking. The patients' mothers were actively blogging about their children's reputed illnesses. Although it is not uncommon for parents of chronically ill children to blog about their child's medical course, specific themes in these blogs of parents suspected of medically abusing their children were noted. In particular, gross distortions of the information parents had received from medical providers were presented online, describing an escalation of the severity of their children's illnesses. The mothers reported contacting palliative care teams and Wish organizations, independently from their medical providers' recommendations. They sought on-line donations for their children's health needs. We believe these blogs provide additional direct evidence of the suspected caregivers' fabrications. Although we have not performed formal content analysis, blogs might also provide insight into the caretakers' motivations. Protective Services and/or police investigators could consider querying the internet for blogs related to children at risk for caregiver-fabricated illness in a child. These blogs, if viewed in parallel with the children's medical records, could assist medical diagnosis and legal documentation of medical fabrication and assist in protective planning for the affected children.
The goal of this research was to develop a screening instrument for early identification among hospitalized children of medical child abuse (MCA).
We developed a preliminary screening instrument for the early identification of MCA. Items were chosen based on published characteristics of MCA, including caregiver, patient, and illness information. Each item in the instrument was scored with 1 point if positive. This instrument was tested by reviewing the hospital charts of child protective services-confirmed MCA patients and comparing the results with charts of children with admissions for apnea, vomiting/diarrhea, and seizures who were not diagnosed with MCA. Nineteen cases and 389 controls were used for analysis. We used receiver operating characteristic curves, starting with items most highly associated with MCA in our sample. Predictive values and strengths of association were assessed by using chi2 and Fisher's exact tests, as appropriate.
From an initial 46 questions, we determined that 26 items showed a statistically significant difference between cases and control patients. From these, an instrument with 15 items maximized the area under the receiver operating characteristic curve, and a score of > or =4 had a sensitivity of 0.947 and a specificity of 0.956 (P<.05) in detecting MCA.
This chart review screening instrument identified differences in characteristics of children, caregivers, and illness during hospitalization that may allow for earlier detection of MCA and referral for further assessment to the multidisciplinary team.
This population-based study evaluates the prevalence of factitious disorders, Münchausen syndrome, and Münchausen syndrome by proxy in a clinical setting. All children referred to the Pediatric Unit of the Department of Pediatrics of the Catholic University Medical School (Agostino Gemelli Hospital) in Rome were recruited between November 2007 and March 2010. An experienced interdisciplinary team of medical professionals analyzed all suspected cases. A total of 751 patients were hospitalized. Factitious disorders were diagnosed in 14/751 patients, resulting in a prevalence of 1.8%. Three of 14 (21.4%) patients fulfilled the criteria for Münchausen syndrome. Münchausen syndrome by proxy was identified in four of 751 patients, resulting in a prevalence of 0.53%. The perpetrator was the mother in three of four of these cases. The epidemiological data obtained in this population-based study indicate that the prevalence of factitious disorders, Münchausen syndrome, and Münchausen syndrome by proxy is higher than previously observed. Moreover, early detection was possible thanks to the awareness of an expert interdisciplinary team. We suggest that physicians must consider the possibility of these diagnoses whenever there are discrepancies in a child's illness presentation.
Munchausen syndrome by proxy is a kind of child abuse in which affected children are often hospitalized for long periods and endure repetitive, painful and expensive diagnostic attempts. We present herein two toxicologically confirmed cases of Munchausen syndrome by proxy. Case 1 is a 16-month-old male who had fever, peripheral cyanosis, tremor, and reported cardiac arrest. Symptoms recurred in the hospital when the mother administered fluids. Toxicology detected 3.5 ng/ml mercury (Hg) in the fluid and 9.4 microg Hg/g creatinine in the urine. Case 2 is a 14-year-old female who had irregular blood findings and multiple hospitalizations. Serum analysis detected warfarin. Both mothers were transferred to psychiatric care. Munchausen syndrome by proxy should be suspected when clinical/laboratory findings are negative, illness descriptions are inconsistent, and frequent hospitalization yields no diagnosis. Psychiatric evaluation and toxicological analysis are recommended.
Munchausen's syndrome by proxy (recently renamed fabricated or induced illness) is a rare form of child abuse, but relatively little is known about the psychopathology of the perpetrators.
To examine the medical, psychiatric, social work and forensic records of mothers referred for detailed psychiatric assessment from 1996 to 2009.
Twenty-eight consecutive individuals with a putative diagnosis of fabricated or induced illness were referred to the authors for detailed psychiatric assessment and recommendations about management (25 from family courts). We scrutinised all medical and psychiatric records and interviewed them, as well as informants.
In total, 16 (57%) had evidence of a current somatoform disorder, and factitious disorders (either past or current) were identified in 18 (64%): 11 participants had both somatoform and factitious disorders. Nine participants (32%) had non-epileptic attacks. We found evidence of pathological lying (pseudologia fantastica) in 17 (61%) of the participants; in some there were key links between early abusive experiences, the development of pathological lying and the eventual fabrication of illness in the child victim.
A chronic somatoform disorder or factitious disorder (or both) was detected in almost two-thirds of the participants. Over half of the mothers exhibited pathological lying, in some dating from adolescence, and this often continued into adult life eventually involving the child in a web of deceit and abuse. Psychiatrists whose work brings them into contact with women with chronic somatoform or factitious disorders, especially if there is evidence of lying from an early age, should always be alert to the impact of these illnesses on any dependent children.
An 8-week-old infant presented to a referring institution with profuse diarrhea and infectious enteritis for 1 week. He was initially treated for suspected Salmonella spp. sepsis and meningitis, because the organism was found in the stool, but the child's illness progressed, manifested by paroxysmal profuse diarrhea and increased urine output. After several weeks, he suffered a sagittal venous thrombosis and intracranial hemorrhage. Subsequently the child was transferred to a tertiary center for intestinal evaluation. The patient's diarrhea and excessive diuresis resolved, and his sodium normalized soon after transfer. Four days later, however, after his mother arrived, he immediately developed severe hypernatremia (serum sodium concentration [Na(+)] = 214 mEq/L), with resumption of diarrhea and excessive diuresis. A gastric aspirate during the crisis demonstrated an extremely high sodium content, [Na(+)] = 1416 mEq/L, consistent with salt intoxication. Surveillance of the mother revealed that she manipulated the indwelling nasogastric tube; confronted, she admitted to salt administration. This case describes one of the ways that Munchausen syndrome by proxy can manifest with profound neurologic sequelae, and highlights the need for close observation and swift intervention when sufficient cause is present.
Chlorpyrifos is an organophosphorus anticholinesterase insecticide, and organophosphate intoxication can induce symptoms such as miosis, urination, diarrhea, diaphoresis, lacrimation, excitation of central nervous system, salivation, and consciousness disturbance (MUDDLES). Although accidental poisoning of children with drugs and chemicals is a common cause for consciousness disturbance in children, the possibility of deliberate poisoning is rarely considered. We report on a healthy 5-year 6-month-old boy with recurrent organophosphate intoxication. Reports of chlorpyrifos intoxication in children are quite rare. This case report demonstrates decision-making process and how to disclose deliberate chlorpyrifos poisoning of the toddler by the stepmother, another example of Munchausen syndrome by proxy.
A two year prospective study was performed to determine the epidemiology of Munchausen syndrome by proxy, non-accidental poisoning, and non-accidental suffocation in the UK and the Republic of Ireland. Cases were notified to the British Paediatric Association Surveillance Unit from September 1992 to August 1994 if a formal case conference had been held for the first time during that period to discuss any of the above conditions. A total of 128 cases were identified: 55 suffered Munchausen syndrome by proxy alone, 15 poisoning, and 15 suffocation; 43 suffered more than one type of abuse. The majority of children were aged under 5 years, the median age being 20 months. On 85% of occasions the perpetrator was the child's mother. In 42% of families with more than one child, a sibling had previously suffered some form of abuse. Eighty five per cent of notifying paediatricians considered the probability of their diagnosis as virtually certain before a case conference was convened. The commonest drugs used to poison were anticonvulsants; opiates were the second commonest. Sixty eight children suffered severe illness of whom eight died. The combined annual incidence of these conditions in children aged under 16 years is at least 0.5/100,000, and for children aged under 1, at least 2.8/100,000.
To investigate outcome, management, and prevention in Munchausen syndrome by proxy, non-accidental poisoning, and non-accidental suffocation.
Ascertainment through British Paediatric Surveillance Unit and questionnaires to responding paediatricians.
The UK and Republic of Ireland, September 1992 to August 1994.
Children under 14 years diagnosed with the above.
Placement and child protection measures for victims and siblings; morbidity and reabuse rates for victims; abuse of siblings; prosecution of perpetrators.
Outcome data for 119 with median follow up of 24 months (range 12 to 44 months). No previously diagnosed factitious disease was found to have been caused by genuine disease. Forty six children were allowed home without conditions at follow up. Children who had suffered from suffocation, non-accidental poisoning, direct harm, and those under 5 years were less likely to go home. Twenty seven (24%) children still had symptoms or signs as a result of the abuse at follow up; 108/120 were originally on a child protection register and 35/111 at follow up. Twenty nine per cent (34/118) of the perpetrators had been prosecuted and most convicted; 17% of the milder cases of Munchausen syndrome by proxy allowed home were reabused. Evidence in siblings suggests that in 50% of families with a suffocated child and 40% with non-accidental poisoning there would be further abuse, some fatal.
This type of abuse is severe with high mortality, morbidity, family disruption, reabuse, and harm to siblings. A very cautious approach for child protection with reintroduction to home only if circumstances are especially favourable is advised. Paediatric follow up by an expert in child protection should also occur.
To determine the epidemiology of Munchausen syndrome by proxy (MSBP) in New Zealand and describe the effects of this condition on children and their paediatricians.
A mail-out survey was sent to all paediatricians in New Zealand in 1999. Paediatricians were asked to identify all cases of MSBP, non-accidental poisoning or non-accidental suffocation diagnosed or suspected in children less than 16 years of age that had been seen in the past 12 months. Those paediatricians who identified a case were then interviewed by telephone to ensure that identified cases were new cases and that they were unique.
Responses were obtained from 148 (95%) of 156 practising paediatricians in New Zealand. Eighteen unique cases of MSBP were identified where the diagnosis had been made in the preceding 12 months. The incidence rate for MSBP in children aged less than 16 years was 2.0/100 000 children. Eleven (61%) of the 18 cases were referred to child protection agencies or the police. The mean time taken to diagnosis from initial presentation was 7 months in the cases referred to child protection agencies and 23 months in cases not referred. The median age at diagnosis was 2.7 years. The mother was the suspected perpetrator in all cases. Most children (72%) presented with multiple symptoms. Over half (55%) had an underlying chronic illness. The morbidity for the child in the majority of cases was not severe, and in nine (50%) cases it was noted that following diagnosis there was improvement or resolution of symptoms. Ten (56%) of the 18 paediatricians involved with cases reported experiencing considerable stress.
The annual incidence in New Zealand of MSBP in children under 16 years is higher than that reported from other countries. Chronic illness is often associated with this condition. The morbidity for the majority of children was not severe and often improved with diagnosis. Paediatricians reported stress and difficulty in association with caring for children with this syndrome of child abuse.
Clinical history and inappropriate insulin secretion during hypoglycemic episodes permit the diagnosis of hyperinsulinism. We report 2 cases of factitious hyperinsulinism leading to partial pancreatectomy. Case 1 was an 8-year-old girl who presented with severe hypoglycemia and elevated insulin and C-peptide levels. Catheterization of pancreatic veins was performed to localize the excess insulin secretion. Insulinoma was suspected, and partial pancreatectomy was performed. Ten days after surgery, severe hypoglycemia recurred with severely elevated plasma insulin levels (x100) but very low C-peptide plasma levels, suggesting factitious hyperinsulinemia. Hypoglycemic episodes before surgery were provoked by oral sulfonamides; postoperative episodes were caused by parenteral insulin. Falsified prescriptions for sulfonamides and insulin by the mother, a nurse, were found. Case 2 was a 6-month-old girl who presented with seizures and hypoglycemia but had a symptom-free interval of many months afterward. At 2 years of age, repeated hypoglycemic seizures and elevated insulin plasma levels suggested congenital hyperinsulinism. C-peptide plasma level, measured once, was normal, but blood sampling was performed 15 minutes after a hypoglycemic episode. Partial pancreatectomy was performed. Two weeks after surgery, hypoglycemic seizures recurred, and the patient was admitted for pancreatic vein catheterization. This investigation was performed during hypoglycemia and revealed high insulin levels and undetectable C-peptide levels, suggesting factitious hypoglycemia. Insulin/C-peptide ratio analysis is crucial to assess factitious hypoglycemia, although sulfonamide-induced hypoglycemia is not thereby detected. One percent (2 of 250) of all cases of hyperinsulinemic hypoglycemia in our unit have been identified as Munchausen syndrome by proxy. Atypical disease history should raise the question of factitious hypoglycemia.
The Ehlers–Danlos syndromes (EDS) are a clinically and genetically heterogeneous group of heritable connective tissue disorders (HCTDs) characterized by joint hypermobility, skin hyperextensibility, and tissue fragility. Over the past two decades, the Villefranche Nosology, which delineated six subtypes, has been widely used as the standard for clinical diagnosis of EDS. For most of these subtypes, mutations had been identified in collagen-encoding genes, or in genes encoding collagen-modifying enzymes. Since its publication in 1998, a whole spectrum of novel EDS subtypes has been described, and mutations have been identified in an array of novel genes. The International EDS Consortium proposes a revised EDS classification, which recognizes 13 subtypes. For each of the subtypes, we propose a set of clinical criteria that are suggestive for the diagnosis. However, in view of the vast genetic heterogeneity and phenotypic variability of the EDS subtypes, and the clinical overlap between EDS subtypes, but also with other HCTDs, the definite diagnosis of all EDS subtypes, except for the hypermobile type, relies on molecular confirmation with identification of (a) causative genetic variant(s). We also revised the clinical criteria for hypermobile EDS in order to allow for a better distinction from other joint hypermobility disorders. To satisfy research needs, we also propose a pathogenetic scheme, that regroups EDS subtypes for which the causative proteins function within the same pathway. We hope that the revised International EDS Classification will serve as a new standard for the diagnosis of EDS and will provide a framework for future research purposes.
Munchausen syndrome by proxy (MSBP), also known as fabricated or induced illness in a child by a caretaker, is a form of abuse where a caregiver deliberately produces or feigns illness in a person under his or her care, so that the proxy will receive medical care that gratifies the caregiver. The affected children are often hospitalized for long periods and endure repetitive, painful and expensive diagnostic attempts. We present an analytically confirmed case of MSBP by alimemazine. A 3-year-old boy was brought repetitively to a Pediatric Emergency Department by his mother because he presented limb tremors, dysarthria, obnubilation, and ataxia and generalized tonic-clonic seizures coinciding with intermittent fever. Neither the rest of the physical examination nor the complementary tests showed any significant alterations. MSBP was suspected and a routine systematic toxicological analysis in urine and blood was requested. Alimemazine was detected in all biological samples. The administration of this drug was never mentioned by the mother and the subsequent interview with her corroborated the suspicion of MSBP. Clinically, after separation from the mother, the child's neurological symptoms gradually improved until the complete disappearance of the cerebellar symptoms. Alimemazine was quantified in serum, urine, gastric content and cerebrospinal fluid samples by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (maximum serum level was 0.42 μg/mL). Hair quantification of alimemazine was performed by ultra-performance-liquid-chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry in different segments of hair. The results confirmed regular substance use during the at least eight last months (8.8, 14.7, 19.7 and 4.6 ng/mg hair starting from most proximal segment). This patient represents the first case published with analytical data of alimemazine in blood, urine, gastric content, cerebrospinal fluid and hair, which allowed us to prove an acute and repetitive poisoning with alimemazine as evidence of MSBP.
Hyperinsulinism, one of the most important causes of hypoglycaemia, can be congenital or acquired. Rarely, drug toxicity can be a reason for hyperinsulinism. In the context of Munchausen syndrome by proxy (MSP), toxicity usually occurs in children due to drug administration by a parent or caregiver. A 7-year-old girl was referred to our department due to a hyperglycaemic period and hypoglycaemic episodes. On admission, gliclazide was initiated due to her hyperglycaemia, which we attributed to maturity onset diabetes of the young. However, during follow-up, hypoglycaemic levels were detected. Despite cessation of gliclazide, hypoglycaemic seizures occurred. Even with the medications administered, hypoglycaemia could not be prevented. During follow-up, the mother's affect, characterized by anxiety and interest in her daughter's medical care, appeared discordant with the situation. Due to our suspicion of MSP, we discovered toxic levels of gliclazide in the blood and urine samples which had been sent to the toxicology laboratory to search for hypoglycaemic agents. The patient was isolated, and all medications were stopped. After isolation, her hypoglycaemia disappeared, and she became hyperglycaemic (250 mg/dl). Physicians should consider the possibility of MSP in hyperinsulinaemic patients with discordant laboratory results and clinical symptoms, even if the child's parents display great concern.
The recognition of fabricated illness (FI) in a child represents a diagnostic challenge. The suspicion of FI often arises from the discrepancy between laboratory tests and clinical history. For instance, (unnecessary) insulin injections by caregivers has been widely described as a common cause of factitious hypoglycemia that may be inferred from discrepancies between plasma insulin and c-peptide. However, contemporary administration of insulin with an insulin secretagogue (glyburide), and of additional drugs, can make the diagnostic pathway problematic. We report the case of a child 4 years and 11 months old, admitted for alternance of hypo- and hyperglycemia associated with hirsutism, hypokalemia, nephrocalcinosis, and neurodevelopmental delay. All these features were compatible with Rabson-Mendenhall syndrome, a rare disorder of severe insulin resistance linked to mutations of insulin receptor. At admission, plasma insulin levels were high during hypoglycemic episodes, but c-peptide was repeatedly in the normal range. The genetic analysis of insulin receptor was negative. The story of previous hospital admissions, inconsistency between insulin and c-peptide values, and association between hypoglycemic episodes in the child with the presence of the mother, raised the suspicion of FI. This hypothesis was confirmed by a video recording that revealed the administration by the mother of multiple drugs (insulin, glyburide, progesterone, and furosemide) that mimicked most of the features of Rabson-Mendenhall syndrome, including hirsutism and hypoglycemia with coincident, inappropriately normal c-peptide values due to the administration of the insulin secretagogue. Our case indicates that inconsistency among consecutive diagnostic tests should be regarded as a clue of FI.
Medical child abuse occurs when a child receives unnecessary and harmful, or potentially harmful, medical care at the instigation of a caretaker through exaggeration, falsification, or induction of symptoms of illness in a child. Neurological manifestations are common with this type of maltreatment.
We sought to review common reported neurological manifestations that may alert the clinician to consider medical child abuse. In addition, the possible sequelae of this form of child maltreatment is discussed, as well as practice recommendations for establishing the diagnosis and stopping the abuse once it is identified.
A review of the medical literature was conducted regarding the reported neurological presentations of this entity.
Neurological manifestations of medical child abuse include false reports of apparent life-threatening events and seizures and reports of induction of symptoms from poisoning. Failure to correlate objective findings with subjective complaints may lead to unnecessary and potentially harmful testing or treatment. This form of child maltreatment puts a child at significant risk of long-term morbidity and mortality.
A wide variety of neurological manifestations have been reported in cases of medical child abuse. It is important for the practicing neurologist to include medical child abuse on the differential diagnosis.
Les corps étrangers intracérébraux sont rares en pédiatrie. Ils surviennent le plus souvent de façon accidentelle après pénétration transorbitaire ou plus rarement transnasale. Nous rapportons l’observation d’un enfant suivi depuis l’âge de 2 mois et demi pour des vomissements chroniques sans retentissement sur la croissance, chez qui la découverte fortuite à l’âge de 22 mois d’une aiguille à coudre de 4,5 cm de long dans le crâne vraisemblablement introduite par la fontanelle nous a conduit au diagnostic de syndrome de Munchausen par procuration.
The etiology of hyperinsulinemic hypoglycemia in adolescents is similar to that of adults. Patients resistant to medical treatment may undergo pancreatectomy. Diazoxide is the mainstay of medical treatment. Rarely bone marrow suppression is reported due to diazoxide.
An adolescent with severe hyperinsulinemic hypoglycemia was referred for pancreatectomy after she was treated with high doses of diazoxide, octreotide and glucose. She developed anemia and febrile neutropenia in the course of diazoxide treatment that resolved with cessation of medication. The cause of the hyperinsulinemia proved to be classical Munchausen by proxy.
This is the first report of bone marrow suppression involving erythroid series by diazoxide. Follow-up of blood count may be considered in patients on high dosages since anemia may be dose dependent. Munchausen by proxy poses a serious threat to children with significant morbidity and mortality. Awareness and a high index of suspicion in clinical settings with unusual causes are the mainstay for the diagnosis.
An 8-week-old infant presented to the emergency department with lethargy, tachycardia, and a blood glucose concentration of 1.8 mmol/L. After admission, hypoglycemia recurred on 3 additional occasions. Initial urinalysis results were negative for ketones, and the results of additional laboratory tests did not support the diagnosis of cortisol or growth hormone deficiency, oral hypoglycemic ingestion, or an inborn error of metabolism. Difficulty restoring and maintaining glucose concentrations along with a transient response to glucagon during 1 hypoglycemic episode suggested hyperinsulinism. In 1 hypoglycemic episode, elevated insulin and low C-peptide concentrations suggested exogenous insulin administration, but 2 subsequent blood samples obtained during hypoglycemia contained appropriately decreased concentrations of insulin. The insulin immunoassay initially used in this case (Roche ElecSys/cobas [Roche Diagnostics, Indianapolis, IN]) was insensitive to insulin analogs. Two additional immunoassays, 1 with intermediate (Immulite [Siemens, Deerfield, IL]) and 1 with broad (radioimmunoassay [Millipore, Inc, Billerica, MA]) reactivity to insulin analogs were used to characterize insulin in each of the critical blood samples. Samples obtained during hypoglycemia displayed a graded reactivity similar to that observed in type 1 diabetic patients prescribed insulin analogs, whereas a sample obtained from the patient and a control subject during euglycemia showed equal reactivity among the 3 assays. These data suggested administration of insulin analog to the child, and further characterization of insulin by using tandem mass spectrometry confirmed the presence of Humalog. The child was subsequently placed in foster care with no further recurrence of hypoglycemia.
Sulphonylurea ingestion is life-threatening in toddlers due to its strong and prolonged hypoglycemic effect, and is on the toddlers' "one pill can kill" list. Its administration to children may not be accidental. We discuss a case of non-accidental sulphonylurea ingestion by an 18-month-old girl, and the clinical reasoning process leading to identification of the causative agent for the patient's symptoms. A previously healthy 18 month-old girl presented to the Emergency Department with altered mental status and severe hypoglycaemia, which required intravenous hypertonic dextrose solutions to maintain euglycemia. A family history of type II diabetes prompted a search for sulphonylureas in the child's serum, which was positive. Further investigation led to the conclusion that the child's poisoning was the result of the mother's Munchausen-by-proxy syndrome. Sulphonylurea intoxication should be considered in previously healthy children presenting with hypoglycaemia. More than 20% of sulphonylurea poisonings reported in the literature correspond to Munchausen-by-proxy syndrome or homicide attempts. Initial management consists of rapid glucose infusion, but boluses should be avoided whenever possible to prevent rebound hyperinsulinism and worsening hypoglycemia. We stress the need to consider potential child abuse or neglect in a hypoglycaemic patient with sulphonylurea-using caregivers.
Some patients consistently produce false stories and fabricate evidence, so causing themselves needless hospital investigations and operations. Here are described parents who, by falsification, caused their children innumerable harmful hospital procedures--a sort of Munchausen syndrome by proxy.
Munchausen syndrome by proxy (MSBP) is a form of child abuse wherein the mother falsifies illness in her child through simulation and/or production of illness, and presents the child for medical care, disclaiming knowledge as to etiology of the problem. From the literature, 117 cases of MSBP were reviewed. The most common presentations of MSBP were bleeding, seizures, central nervous system depression, apnea, diarrhea, vomiting, fever, and rash. Short-term morbidity rate was 100%; long-term morbidity rate was 8%. Mortality rate was 9%. Failure to thrive was associated with MSBP in 14% of cases. All perpetrators of MSBP were the mothers. The origins of this type of aberrant maternal behavior remain abstruse, as do the long-term psychological effects on the child victims. Guidelines for medical, social service, and legal management are provided.
The term Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy describes a pattern of physical abuse in which a perpetrator produces or fabricates illness in a victim. Victims are almost always children. We alternatively call this behaviour medical child abuse. Our report describes five recent cases. Two presented with infantile apnoea, one with alleged hypoventilation, one with recurrent vomiting and one with recurrent infections. Three of the perpetrators were mothers, two were fathers. In three cases diagnoses were confirmed by covert video surveillance. Contrary to popular beliefs, this behaviour is not rare and is not a syndrome of any known psychopathology. It is simply another, very dangerous, form of child abuse. Reported victim mortalities range from 9% to 31%. To ensure child safety we suggest the medical, legal and law enforcement communities begin to view this entity more as a profile of criminal abusive behaviour and less as a medical syndrome.
At the hospital 41 children from 37 families were identified as having had illness induced by a parent who in all but three cases was the mother. Their case records were reviewed. Four patterns of presentation occurred; failure-to-thrive through the active withholding of food; allegation of allergy and withholding of food; allegation and fabrication of medical symptoms; and active interference by poisoning or disrupting medical treatment. Four of the children died, two as a result of the illness induction. In 35% of the families a sibling had been previously subjected to some type of abuse. All the children had been presented with potentially serious symptoms, but post-identification only five were found to have serious medical problems requiring ongoing treatment. There were no specific characteristics of either the child or family associated with each type of presentation. Seventeen children had previously presented with failure-to-thrive, feeding problems or food allergies. All the mothers had suffered at least one of the following: privation, child abuse, psychiatric illness, or significant loss or bereavement, whereas only half the fathers had grown up in a deprived family situation and/or had earlier or current health difficulties. Forty percent of the parents had serious marital problems. A combined medical/psychosocial team identified the abuse and attempted to understand the family's belief system regarding the illness. The process of Illness Induction was conceptualized as being initiated by the parents perceiving the child to be ill and using this focus on illness as a way of solving major personal, marital, and/or family difficulties.
Fifteen families are described in which one or more child incurred factitious illness abuse as a result of the father's false story and actions. The degree of direct physical harm, and the chance of death, was high in those families in which the father had Munchausen syndrome or marked somatising disorder. Eleven children died and another six survived repetitive smothering or poisoning. Although the extent of the risk to children living with a parent who has marked somatising disorder is unsure, there must be vigilance on behalf of those children.
This article presents an updated review of the literature of Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy (Factitious Disorder by Proxy, MBP).
Four hundred fifty-one cases of MBP were analyzed from 154 medical and psychosocial journal articles.
Typical victims may be either males or females, usually 4 years of age or under. Victims averaged 21.8 months from onset of symptoms to diagnosis. Six percent of victims were dead, and 7.3% were judged to have suffered long-term or permanent injury. Twenty-five percent of victims' known siblings are dead, and 61.3% of siblings had illnesses similar to those of the victim or which raised suspicions of MBP. Mothers were perpetrators in 76.5% of cases, but as knowledge of MBP grows a wider range of perpetrators is identified. In a small number of cases, MBP was found to co-exist with secondary gain or other inflicted injury.
Although published cases form a non-random sample, they add to knowledge about MBP and validate claims that it occurs. More knowledge about non-medical aspects of MBP, and more pooling of data, is desirable.
A liquid chromatographic mass spectrometric (LC/MS/MS) method has been developed for the determination of loperamide in whole blood and other biological specimens. The procedure involves liquid-liquid extraction of loperamide, desmethylloperamide and methadone-D3 (internal standard) with butyl acetate. Confirmation and quantification was done by positive electrospray ionisation with a triple quadrupole mass spectrometer operating in multiple reaction-monitoring (MRM) mode. Two MRM transitions of each compound were established and identification criteria were set up based on the ratio of the responses between the two MRM transitions of each compound. The standard curves were linear over a working range of 0.1-500 microg/kg for all transitions. The limit of quantification was 0.1 microg/kg in whole blood. The repeatability and reproducibility within the laboratory expressed by relative standard deviation were less than 5 and 11%, respectively, and the accuracy was better than 9%. The method was developed to examine a feces sample from a child whose mother was suspected of Münchausen syndrome by proxy and it proved to be suitable for forensic cases being simple, selective and reproducible. The method was also applied for a case investigation involving a overdose of loperamide.
Abnormal illness behaviour by proxy (also known as factitious illness by proxy or Munchhausen syndrome by proxy) is a type of child maltreatment, the origins of which are poorly understood.
To describe attachment representations in a cohort of mothers demonstrating abnormal illness behaviour by proxy.
Sixty-seven mothers who had shown this behaviour took part in a semistructured interview assessing their attachment representations.
Only 12 mothers (18%) were rated secure in terms of their own childhood attachments. There was evidence of unresolved trauma or loss reactions in 40 mothers (60%). Eighteen mothers (27%) gave unusually disorganised and incoherent accounts of attachment relationships in their own childhoods. The frequency of these attachment categories is higher than in normal non-clinical samples.
Insecure attachment is a risk factor for this type of child maltreatment. Therapeutic interventions could be offered in relation to unresolved traumatic stress or bereavement responses. Further study of similar groups, such as mothers with sick children or mothers with histories of traumatic experience, would be a useful next step.
Münchhausen by proxy syndrome (MBPS) is a rare but dramatic variant of child abuse. In MBPS adults, mostly the mother, invent, manipulate, or produce the child's illness, and as a consequence the child has to undergo numerous diagnostic or treatment procedures. Typically, valid information about the etiology of the child's illness is withheld by the parents, and reversible symptoms vanish, when the child and the responsible adults are separated. Although valid statistical data about the epidemiology of MBPS are not available, MBPS should be considered more often than normally recognized. Neurological and neuropsychological presentations including developmental delays and learning problems appear to be common among MBPS cases so that clinical child neuropsychologists should be aware of this problem and consider MBPS at least in some of the mysterious cases that come to their attention. The present study describes a case of MBPS in which neurological and neuropsychological symptoms predominate. It presents a MBPS variant that is characterized by developmental delays and learning problems induced by unnecessary isolation at home, hospitalization, and treatment procedures. In the present case MBPS was at first suspected following neuropsychological assessment, since some of the main features of non-authenticity of symptom presentation gave cause for suspecting deceptive behavior on the mother's (and possibly also on the maternal grandmother's) side.
To present a case of Munchausen syndrome by proxy caused by ipecac poisoning to increase the awareness of their warning signs and symptoms so that they may be recognized and diagnosed earlier.
Report of one case of a child who was determined to be a victim of Munchausen syndrome by proxy by ipecac poisoning who was hospitalized multiple times over a 4-year period at 2 different hospitals before an accurate diagnosis was made.
Renal and urologic problems in pediatric condition falsification (PCF)/Munchausen by proxy (MBP) can pose frustrating diagnostic and management problems. Five previously unreported victims of PCF/MBP are described. Symptoms included artifactual hematuria, recalcitrant urinary infections, dysfunctional voiding, perineal irritation, glucosuria, and "nutcracker syndrome", in addition to alleged sexual abuse. Falsifications included false or exaggerated history, specimen contamination, and induced illness. Caretakers also intentionally withheld appropriately prescribed treatment. Children underwent invasive diagnostic and surgical procedures because of the falsifications. They developed iatrogenic complications as well as behavioral problems stemming from their abuse. A PCF/MBP database was started in 1995 and includes the characteristics of 135 PCF/MBP victims examined by the first author between 1974 and 2006. Analysis of the database revealed that 25% of the children had renal or urologic issues. They were the presenting/primary issue for five. Diagnosis of PCF/MBP was delayed an average of 4.5 years from symptom onset. Almost all patients were victimized by their mothers, and maternal health falsification and somatization were common. Thirty-one of 34 children had siblings who were also victimized, six of whom died. In conclusion, falsifications of childhood renal and urologic illness are relatively uncommon; however, the deceits are prolonged and tortuous. Early recognition and intervention might limit the harm.
Munchausen by proxy (MBP) is a severe form of abuse in which a caregiver simulates or fabricates illness in another person, primarily the elderly and children, which can even result in death.
We report two siblings who were victims of MBP, one of whom died. A very rare diagnosis, cicatricial pemphigoid was suspected in the 2-year-old girl who was first abused. She was hospitalized twice, for 3 and 4 months, respectively. Her second hospitalization ended with her death. MBP was diagnosed after the second sibling's admission with similar atypical signs and symptoms. It was realized that a household-cleaning product, sodium hydroxide, was administered repeatedly by oral route to the children by their own mother.
Physicians must consider the diagnosis of MBP whenever they are confronted with unusual, persistent or recurrent signs and symptoms in a child.
We report the case of a 2 year-old child presented to the emergency department following a seizure. The child was hypotonic and examination was unremarkable but laboratory tests confirmed a severe hypoglycaemia. The insulin level, inappropriately high for the glycemia and the peptide C undetectable suggested exogenous hyperinsulinism. We conclude that the hypoglycaemia was likely the result of Munchhausen syndrome by proxy. The specificity of two immunoassays used (Elecsys Roche and IRMA CisBio) for the synthetic analogues of insulin explains the discrepancy between the insulin levels obtained but was crucially useful to the approach of the cause of the hypoglycaemia.
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