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Child Abuse Negl. 2014 Mar;38(3):488-97. doi: 10.1016/j.chiabu.2013.12.002. Epub 2014 Jan 4.

Care taker blogs in caregiver fabricated illness in a child: a window on the caretaker's thinking?

Author information

1
Children's Protection Program, Seattle Children's Hospital, Seattle, WA, USA.
2
Children's Protection Program, Seattle Children's Hospital, Seattle, WA, USA; Department of Pediatrics, General Pediatrics Division, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA, USA.
3
Treuman Katz Center for Pediatric Bioethics, Children's Research Institute, Seattle Children's Hospital, Seattle, WA, USA; Department of Pediatrics, Bioethics Division, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA, USA.

Abstract

Three recently diagnosed cases of caregiver-fabricated illness in a child at Seattle Children's Hospital shed light on a new manifestation of their caretakers' attention seeking. The patients' mothers were actively blogging about their children's reputed illnesses. Although it is not uncommon for parents of chronically ill children to blog about their child's medical course, specific themes in these blogs of parents suspected of medically abusing their children were noted. In particular, gross distortions of the information parents had received from medical providers were presented online, describing an escalation of the severity of their children's illnesses. The mothers reported contacting palliative care teams and Wish organizations, independently from their medical providers' recommendations. They sought on-line donations for their children's health needs. We believe these blogs provide additional direct evidence of the suspected caregivers' fabrications. Although we have not performed formal content analysis, blogs might also provide insight into the caretakers' motivations. Protective Services and/or police investigators could consider querying the internet for blogs related to children at risk for caregiver-fabricated illness in a child. These blogs, if viewed in parallel with the children's medical records, could assist medical diagnosis and legal documentation of medical fabrication and assist in protective planning for the affected children.

KEYWORDS:

Caregiver-fabricated illness in a child; Fundraising; Internet fraud; Medical child abuse; Munchausen by proxy; On-line blogging

PMID:
24393290
DOI:
10.1016/j.chiabu.2013.12.002
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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