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Mum loses children after years of inventing illnesses

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#1 EBKatie

Posted 28 June 2012 - 12:13 PM

A NSW mother has been banned from contacting her four children until  they are 18, after her son was admitted to hospital 115 times in three  years. Rather than being gravely ill, the Children's Court heard that  the woman showed signs of the rare disorder Munchausen syndrome by proxy  (MSP) - a form of child abuse where parents repeatedly invent illnesses  for their children, in order to receive attention and sympathy.

Read the rest of the article here
  Have you ever encountered this kind of behaviour either online or in real life?

#2 B.feral3

Posted 28 June 2012 - 12:26 PM

Wow. That's incredibly sad.
Why were these kids being admitted though I wonder? Was she making them ill on purpose? A doctor wont admit a child to hospital if they are not sick?  huh.gif

#3 mudskippa

Posted 28 June 2012 - 12:29 PM

Yes. A friend of mine is a stepmother and the mother is always making up illnesses for the child involved. It's very frustrating because she keeps sending huge lists of instructions for allergies/syndromes/conditions and telling the child they have to abide by it (so she will refuse to eat something out of fear) or she'll withhold access.

Every time they've gone to a doctor there is nothing wrong with the child beyond normal childhood illness. The child is too young to work it all out yet - why something is fine one week but not the next or why it okay to do something in one location but not another. It's like some weird control issue - trying to control her daughter's time in the other home in whatever way she can.

They are going through court to get more access at the moment because they are concerned about the child being affected by this obsession with health and also just want more access, so this will be good news for them.

Edited by mudskippa, 28 June 2012 - 12:29 PM.

#4 Mpjp is feral

Posted 28 June 2012 - 12:30 PM

QUOTE (Bek+3 @ 28/06/2012, 12:26 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Wow. That's incredibly sad.
Why were these kids being admitted though I wonder? Was she making them ill on purpose? A doctor wont admit a child to hospital if they are not sick? huh.gif

According to teh article she 'attempted' to have them admitted, and repeatedly 'took' them to hospital which is different to actual admission.

#5 FeralMuddyPuddles

Posted 28 June 2012 - 12:32 PM

The child wasnt admitted all those times, the mother took him to hospital claiming he was sick, 115 times in 3 years.

Its a horrible situation for all of the children involved, but its good to see that the kids are with their father now and there have been no further trips to hospital.

Is also a shame the mother isnt agreeing to get help, she doesnt think that she needs it.

#6 Guest_Spunkrat_*

Posted 28 June 2012 - 12:35 PM


Edited by Spunkrat, 01 September 2012 - 02:26 PM.

#7 mudskippa

Posted 28 June 2012 - 12:35 PM

People with Munchausen syndrome, whether online or fully realised - leave a trail of destruction behind them – broken families, deceived friends, exhausted moderators.


#8 Guest_holy_j_*

Posted 28 June 2012 - 01:03 PM

QUOTE (Bek+3 @ 28/06/2012, 12:26 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Wow. That's incredibly sad.
Why were these kids being admitted though I wonder? Was she making them ill on purpose? A doctor wont admit a child to hospital if they are not sick?  huh.gif

It says it was mostly for asthma attacks.That doesn't mean she was making the sick, though certainly doesn't exclude it. I hope not.

I think its incredibly sad for the children, and i think its also incredibly sad for the mother, 115 times and it took that long to see she wasn't right? She needed mental help a long time ago, where is the children's father in all of this? her friends? her family? I would be asking questions a lot sooner than that if i was related to or friends with the woman.

#9 opethmum

Posted 28 June 2012 - 01:10 PM

Munchausen by proxy is very serious and who knows what she made the kids do and I guess through time the children will be able to get counselling and come to terms with their past. I am glad the mother had had her parental rights terminated especially if she is refusing help.
Who knows what she would have done to them if she was left alone with them for one day longer. Having a child attempt suicide is not on and I am glad that he survived and is now completely better.

#10 boatiebabe

Posted 28 June 2012 - 01:20 PM

I'm pretty sure in this case a lot of people were asking a lot of questions for at least a couple of years. So it's not as if no one has noticed over the last few years.

I don't think anyone would take away a mother's rights to have access her child/ren unless there was a pretty thorough process which had been gone through. Doesn't mean there was inaction by the authorities.

#11 Neriah

Posted 28 June 2012 - 01:39 PM

They tend to be women in a medical field and/or have extensive knowledge of medicine. When they do actively induce symptoms in their child rather than just saying they have those symptoms, the presentation typically involves apnoea - they use a hand or pillow (one woman I read about kept a piece of gladwrap in her purse) and smother the child until they stop breathing and then 'save' them by giving them CPR and rushing them to a doctor or hospital. Though it can progress in other ways, including doping tests eg. adding sugar to a urine sample and even injecting the child with drugs or other substances in extreme cases. It's horrendous.

I have not witnessed it but have studied it as part of my forensic degree. They do tend to doctor shop and move on once someone becomes suspicious making it harder to detect and intervene. It is also relatively rare and does tend to progress slowly over time (and children). One of the problems is that they really believe they are doing the best for the child by doing whatever they have to (including lying about and inducing symptoms) to get them seen by a doctor. Once confronted few accept any wrong doing or involvement in their child's ill health even when they are no longer ill after being removed from their care, which obviously would not happen if they were genuinely sick.

It would be dreadful to lose your parental rights if they were really sick and you were just trying to help them, however generally we can't take the risk. If they have only ever had problems while in your care and have never had a problem witnessed from the start by another person and there are excessive hospital admissions, suspicion will be raised. If anything we aren't able to intervene soon enough (we need substantial evidence; but this protects people from having their children taken away when they are genuinely sick, particularly if it's a rare condition). We need to find a balance so that at risk children can be removed temporarily to determine if their illness is genuine or being induced, preventing children from remaining in a home with a MSP whilst not taking children who are really sick away from their parents. The time from suspicion to removal can be months to years while evidence is built up as it is hard to prove. However, I also know that innocent parents have been unfairly accused and that is awful, particularly if it prevents them from having access to medical care that their children need. It's a difficult and sad situation all around.

Edited to clarify.

Edited by Neriah, 28 June 2012 - 02:04 PM.

#12 JaneDoe2010

Posted 28 June 2012 - 01:42 PM

QUOTE (EBKatie @ 28/06/2012, 12:13 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Have you ever encountered this kind of behaviour either online or in real life?

Yes, there is someone I know that skirts pretty closely on the edge of this .

Edited by JaneDoe2010, 28 June 2012 - 02:50 PM.

#13 The Cat

Posted 28 June 2012 - 01:47 PM

Poor kids.

See, I have a problem with this thread asking the question.  It will lead to no good and paranoia.  Shame EB, shame!

I've been accused of it.  Jaxon was in and out of hospital as a baby and by the time he had pneumonia and right before Jamie died in hospital, I was accused of poisoning them.  

To sit on the other side and be accused for your family's illnesses is very nasty.  Why would EB start a witch hunt thread?  *shakes head*.

Edited by The Cat, 28 June 2012 - 03:01 PM.

#14 B.feral3

Posted 28 June 2012 - 01:50 PM

QUOTE (zaacaa @ 28/06/2012, 12:32 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
The child wasnt admitted all those times, the mother took him to hospital claiming he was sick, 115 times in 3 years.

I just went back to have a look and this is the opening line -

A NSW mother has been banned from contacting her four children until they are 18, after her son was admitted to hospital 115 times in three years.

It then says later in the article in italics -

She took the eldest son to hospital 115 times in the three years to 2010, mostly for asthma attacks.

I guess the first part is the one that stuck in my head!!  original.gif

#15 Mrs Darcy

Posted 28 June 2012 - 01:56 PM

This is such a sad story.

I worked with someone (closely) who I suspected might be doing this to her son. She has since left, so I don't know what is going on now. The reason I suspected her is that she had lied about many other things - BIG lies and dangerous lies. I don't know if I was being irresponsible, but I didn't want to get involved. I did speak to a senior staff member about it as she suspected it too.

I know it sounds horrible, but sometimes taking the parental rights away from theses people is the best for the children. Im almost certain in my co workers case I think it would be.  sad.gif

#16 kadoodle

Posted 28 June 2012 - 02:13 PM

Intreagued now....

My mother was accused of having MSP when one of my younger sisters was chronically ill.  It was pretty vile how ham-fisted the hospital was with them both.  They just snatched my sister off mum and whisked her away.  Thankfully (?) she got rapidly worse and they realized she had an irregularly presenting but actually common ailment.

#17 EBeditor

Posted 28 June 2012 - 02:21 PM

If you have any concerns about a member I urge to to post in messages to mods or send a private message to admin rather than naming and shaming, or even hinting in this thread.

#18 Tecopa

Posted 28 June 2012 - 02:41 PM


Edited by Tecopa, 29 June 2012 - 06:35 AM.

#19 Spring Chickadee

Posted 28 June 2012 - 02:45 PM

Unfortunately yes.

As a child one of their parents was strongly suspected of MSP and even accused of it my her children later in life, One particular child is now all grown up with a child of their own. The frequency of health issues, number of issues, bizarreness of some of them, the way in which they are constantly seeking attention for it and that feeling in my stomach something just isn't right makes me strongly suspect MSP.  When you speak to them about it you often get the feeling something isn't right and it all doesn't add up. It started when they were pregnant and snowballed from there.

But it's a suspicion, I have no proof. Thankfully they are seeing enough DRs that hopefully if there is intentional harm done to the child someone will pick it up.

Edited by Spring Chickadee, 28 June 2012 - 02:46 PM.

#20 JaneDoe2010

Posted 28 June 2012 - 02:49 PM

QUOTE (EBeditor @ 28/06/2012, 02:21 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
If you have any concerns about a member I urge to to post in messages to mods or send a private message to admin rather than naming and shaming, or even hinting in this thread.

Will delete for that reason (sorry guys).

EBEditor if you could edit my quote out of the other posts that would be great. Thanks.

Edited by JaneDoe2010, 28 June 2012 - 02:50 PM.

#21 FreeRangeMum

Posted 28 June 2012 - 07:45 PM

I read a truly awful auto-biography of an adult who was subjected to MBP as a child. Her mother induced illness with asphyxiation and poisoning. So sad.

My uncles ex wife had Maunchousen Syndrome. Eventually died from od as a result.

Edited by FreeRangeMum, 28 June 2012 - 07:46 PM.

#22 Lightning_bug

Posted 28 June 2012 - 08:21 PM

I was under the impression they had dis proven MBP... or something to that angel.  I'll see if I can find it but if anyone else can remember it'd save me some time.  LOL.

#23 Acidulous Osprey

Posted 28 June 2012 - 08:35 PM

It has always been a controversial diagnosis but there have been enough cases where parents were seen doing stuff like injecting faeces into an IV line or attempting to asphyxiate babies.

Roy Meadows is the guy who is very problematic WRT MBP.  He was involved in a few cases in the UK where he gave evidence that it was not possible for more than 2 babies in one family to die of SIDS.  He's been pretty heavily censured for this and convictions overturned.

I knew one woman who set my radar off.  She claimed her BF baby was diagnosed with coeliac, her kid had an ASD diagnosis and man, he was the most socially adept kid with ASD I ever met, she claimed he had learning disabilities and when her DH showed me the WISC they had had done it was indicative of no such issues.  She would constantly tell people that her kid had rages and had destroyed the house but the house always looked tidy and normal with no broken mirrors or furniture.  It was really odd.

#24 red_squirrel

Posted 28 June 2012 - 08:42 PM

Why anyone would want to spend so many hours waiting in casualty is beyond me.
We end up there at least once a year, normally with a 6 hour wait. It would be my worst nightmare to be there that often.
I feel sorry for all those involved.

#25 Soontobegran

Posted 28 June 2012 - 08:45 PM

I have met a mother with MBP who was making her child sick and going to great lengths to make her child gravely ill, the child was eventually taken from her after surveillance revealed her injecting into the child's IV line amongst other things.
I have met several parents who have brought their children into hospital reporting apneoa, convulsions and other serious symptoms which have mysteriously improved by the time they have got to hospital.

Whether both of these presentations can be diagnosed as MBP I am not sure. It is a diagnosis made very reluctantly due to the possible repercussions.

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