CASE REPORTS
JOURNAL ARTICLE
REVIEW
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Munchausen by proxy: a case, chart series, and literature review of older victims.

UNLABELLED: The history of an older child victim of Munchausen by proxy (MBP) is described. He was referred for evaluation after repeated sinus surgeries for recurrent sinus infections believed to be related to a falsified history of an immunodeficiency. The perpetrator was the mother of this 14-year-old victim, consistent with the majority of such cases. This case prompted a review of cases of MBP in older children reported in our hospital as well as a literature search for other cases in older children.

METHODS: This study was a chart review of children over 6 years of age who had been evaluated by social services at the Children's Hospital at the Cleveland Clinic and reported as cases of Munchausen by proxy to Child Protective Services between January 2001 and June 2003. Also, an OVID, Psychline, and Pubmed literature review of published cases of Munchausen by proxy were identified, and cases occurring in the older child were selected for review.

RESULTS: Older children who are the victims of Munchausen by proxy may have an induced illness, but falsified reports of symptoms and medical history to coerce the child to undergo medical procedures may be more common. Collusion of the victim with the perpetrator may also become a factor as the child ages and adopts the deception. Given the complex relationship that exists between the parent and child, it is difficult to predict whether the victim either will assist the caregiver in maintaining the factitious illness or be able to recognize the falsification.

CONCLUSIONS: Older children who are the victims of Munchausen by proxy may fear consequences of revealing the factitious illness. Physicians must consider the possibility of this diagnosis whenever there are discrepancies in a child's illness that makes a factitious illness a consideration.

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