When a child has been a recurring patient at hospitals and has never been diagnosed or had any confirmation that an illness even exists, it should raise questions as to what is going on in the child’s life. This could be a sign that Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy may be occurring. The journal article titled “Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy and the Implications for Childbirth Educators” is informative about this type of child abuse.
What is Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy or in short MSBP?
Who is usually involved in situations such as this?
How can it be detected?
How can it be stopped?
First things first, we need to know what exactly MSBP is. So? What is Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy? MSBP “is a mental disorder in which a caregiver falsifies illness in a child to gain the attention of medical personnel.” (Gilbert, 2014). MSBP is child abuse and it can also be known as “pediatric condition falsification.” (Gilbert, 2014). MSBP is one of the only forms of child abuse that medical staff are involved with, even without their knowledge.
The children who are victims to this abuse and disease can be harmed “physically” with the treatments of the falsified sicknesses. (Gilbert, 2014)
Who would do such a thing and who are the common victims of MSBP? The “perpetrator” (Gilbert, 2014) of this horrific and attention-seeking act is found be the biological mother 85-9 percent of the time. The biological mother usually starts off with Munchausen Syndrome herself which is like being an extreme hypochondriac or someone who always thinks something’s wrong with them in order to gain attention from their peers and doctors. Once the woman becomes pregnant, depending on her severity of MS, it could turn into MS by proxy. Caretakers, parents, nurses or usually someone with a medical background are your usual suspects for this disease. The abuse can start as soon as the fetus arises in the womb.
For example, a case study about a woman referred to as Ms. A in the article would induce premature labor by puncturing her amniotic sac with her fingernail. (Gilbert, 2014)
This act could be dangerous and could cause medical consequences for the mother and the baby.
Other abuse is usually found to be in children who aren’t old enough to understand the harm being done to them by their mothers or children who can be easily manipulated into going along with the falsifications.
Sadly enough, this abuse usually will go undetected. MSBP is said to be hard to diagnosis because the etiology or reasoning behind the disease is hard to determine. The abuser is someone who is a master manipulator who plays a role of the concerned guardian of the child and will go to great links in order to prove the illness is real. They will falsify documents and produce fake test results. They will also go as far as putting their own blood in urine and feces to show some type of disruption of health in the child.
In order to be able to determine if abuse is occurring, medical personnel, and child educators, birthing class teachers and others should all be aware of the symptoms.
If a child is only getting sick when he/she is around one person that is a sign.
If the mother has unexplained deaths for more than one child that may be a sign.
If the child is seen by several different hospitals and has had no sort of diagnosis but has had invasive tests done that is a sign.
It is important to understand and distance yourself personally from your patients or students to be able to fully examine the situation and take appropriate action.
When someone becomes aware of MSBP occurring, they can report to the authorities, CPS child protective services, medical board, etc. The CPS is the main person who will decide on what happens to the child once the abuse is proved. The authorities will take action onto the abuser with criminal punishments. The medical boards will get together to ensure the psychological state of the medical personnel involved and the abuser are dealt with.
The main focus of understanding MSBP and finding out ways to spot it, is all for the safety of the children. All in all, after reading this article it is a great way to get informed on one of the most unfathomable forms of child abuse and disease. Once a person is able to understand and know exactly what MSBP is, they can start learning how to detect and stop it. Furthermore, they will be able to know who to contact if a situation arises. If anyone is interested in seeing MSBP first hand a new documentary called The Act is a series aired on Hulu every Wednesday and is based on a true story of a severe case of MSBP. In the end all anyone wants is to keep their child safe but when someone is causing MSBP they are failing in doing so which is why the information provided in this article can be helpful to many. If you think about it, it could save lives.
Gilbert, J. (2014). International Journal of Childbirth Educators. Munchausen Syndrome By Proxy and the Implications for Childbirth Educators, 73-79.