Munchausen syndrome by proxy

Definition of Munchausen syndrome by proxy

Munchausen syndrome by proxy is a form of in which a parent induces real or apparent symptoms of a disease in a child.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

This syndrome almost always involves a mother abusing her child by seeking unneeded medical attention for the child. It is rare and poorly understood. The cause is unknown.

Treatment

Once the syndrome is recognized, the child needs to be protected and removed from direct care of the parent. The affected parent should not be accused directly, but offered help.

Expectations (prognosis)

This is a difficult disorder to treat in parents. There is little information available about the best types of treatment or what the outcome will be. It usually requires years of psychiatric support.

Review

Neil K. Kaneshiro, MD, MHA, Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc. – 3/14/2009

ADAM Medical Encyclopedia

Article written by

A.D.A.M., Inc. is accredited by URAC, also known as the American Accreditation HealthCare Commission (www.urac.org). URAC's accreditation program is an independent audit to verify that A.D.A.M. follows rigorous standards of quality and accountability.