When we become parents we don’t always know what to do in every situation. It would be great if we knew exactly how to teach our kids to talk, walk, or survive their first heart ache. But unfortunately we aren’t given a manual when our baby takes his first breath out of the womb. This is especially true when our children are sick. We don’t want them to be in pain or have a cold. We don’t want them to have a stomach ache or trouble sleeping. But this is just part of parenting; no matter how much we try to protect them they will somehow, some way catch a cold or spike a fever. Being in day care and school increases their chances of coming down with something that puts their lives on hold for a day or two. I know that when my boys were younger I would get concerned at the first sign of a sniffle and my doctor wasn’t always happy when I paged him in the middle of the night or showed up at the emergency room over something that turned out to be the common cold. But I think almost every parent has overreacted at least one time or another. That’s just being a new parent. However, some parents don’t share the same views or have the same agenda. Some take it to another level and not because they’re trying to prevent illness. Some put their children in situations that can actually cause them to be sick, very sick.
Munchhausen Syndrome By-Proxy was named after Baron Von Munchhausen. He was a German man and dignitary that lived in the 18th Century and was known to tell bizarre stories such as traveling to the moon, riding cannon balls, and saving himself from a swamp by pulling him self up by his hair.
Munchhausen Syndrome By-Proxy is an uncommon psychological disorder which involves a parent or care giver that induces, exaggerates, or fabricates a child’s illness so that they can get attention and sympathy from those around them. Although physically, verbally, and neglecting a child are all forms of child abuse, Munchhausen also falls in the category and is one of the most harmful and in some cases will lead to death.
Documented cases have shown that caregivers have done the following.
1. Switched the child’s medication to cause an allergic reaction.
2. Injected the child with urine to cause an infection.
3. Injected the child with feces.
4. Placed drops of blood into the child’s urine specimen.
5. Irritate a wound so that it doesn’t heal.
6. Poisoning with Hydrocarbons and Imipramine.
7. Administering laxatives, salt and ipecac to cause vomiting and diarrhea.
8. Administering medications that will imitate diseases, such as diabetes and chemotherapy medication, and blood thinners.
9. Tampering with hospital medical equipment so that the doctors misdiagnose or have a need for further medical testing.
So what type of person would do this to a child? Who would actually go to this extreme to draw attention to them self and try to gain sympathy? The following is a list of characteristics that are common to the person with Munchhausen.
1. A vast knowledge of medicine.
2. An interest in entering the medical field or is in the medical field.
3. Cooperative and friendly with the medical and/or hospital staff.
4. Very attentive and is hesitant to leave the child’s side.
5. Usually a mother or can be an adult child of someone that is elderly.
6. Calm even though the child is really sick.
7. Supportive and even encourages the doctor but can also be demeaning to the medical staff.
8. Demands more medical procedures or second opinions.
9. If a parent, they are alone in the medical facility without their spouse.
Making a diagnosis or assumption of Munchhausen is difficult. But there are signs to look for. The patient usually is healthy when out of the care of the parent. There is a family history of illness and unexpected death. The caregiver has a history of similar illnesses that go undiagnosed because they are strange, and the parent is usually going through marital difficulty. These are a few of the things to look for but every case is different.
Unfortunately child abuse is everywhere but shockingly this type of abuse is brought to the attention of society. While most abusers try to cover up the horrible things that happen behind closed doors the person that has Munchhausen is very different.
Our children are the most precious gift and while they are in our care we should do everything that we possibly can to ensure their safety and give them a lavish amount of love that can be passed on to future generations.