Munchausen syndrome by proxy is being recognized and reported with increasing frequency, which suggests that it is more common and occurs with a wider spectrum of severity than was previously suspected. In past reports, the difficulties of detecting and documenting the syndrome have been emphasized, as well as its physical morbidity and mortality. The psychologic morbidity of Munchausen syndrome by proxy in six children is described. The children reacted with developmentally appropriate behavior problems ranging from feeding disorders in infants, withdrawal and hyperactivity in preschool-aged children, to hysterical disorders and personal adoption of Munchausen syndrome behavior in adolescents. Parental psychologic and behavioral styles, family dynamics, and responses from legal and children's protective services systems make protection of the child within the home difficult, if not impossible. Even with protection from further physical injury, severe psychologic trauma remains likely. Extreme caution is suggested in allowing these children to remain in the family.
- Received October 20, 1987.
- Accepted March 2, 1988.
- Copyright © 1989 by the American Academy of Pediatrics