Display Mode:

    Main content

    Health Information

    Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy

    Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy

    Munchausen syndrome by proxy (MSBP) is a mental health disorder and form of abuse in which a caregiver-usually a mother-claims or causes an illness in another person-usually her child. The caregiver may directly hurt the person to produce symptoms or may cause the person to undergo unnecessary medical tests or treatments that are often painful and potentially harmful.

    Caregivers may:

    • Falsely claim the person under their care has experienced serious symptoms, such as seizures, diarrhea, vomiting, or apnea.
    • Contaminate test results to make the person under their care appear ill.
    • Physically harm the person under their care to produce symptoms.

    Munchausen syndrome by proxy sometimes is triggered by a child or vulnerable adult having a true illness from which the caregiver gains attention and satisfaction. A caregiver sometimes victimizes more than one person under his or her care but not at the same time. A person who is a victim of Munchausen syndrome by proxy is at increased risk for developing mental health problems and complications of unnecessary medical treatment.

    Diagnosis requires careful scrutiny and documentation by a team of health professionals who will involve police, adult or child protection services, and the courts. The caregiver is held legally accountable for his or her actions and requires mental health counseling.

    Current as of: July 26, 2016

    Author: Healthwise Staff

    Medical Review: Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & Lisa S. Weinstock, MD - Psychiatry

    This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated, disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. Learn how we develop our content.

    © 1995-2017 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.