Fabricated Illness

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Fabricated or induced illness (FII) is a rare form of child abuse. It occurs when a parent or carer, exaggerates or deliberately causes symptoms of illness in the child.

FII is also known as 'Munchausen's syndrome by proxy' (not to be confused with Munchausen's syndrome, where a person pretends to be ill or causes illness or injury to themselves).

FII covers a wide range of symptoms and behaviours involving parents seeking healthcare for a child. This ranges from extreme neglect (failing to seek medical care) to induced illness.

Behaviours in FII include a parent or carer who:

  • Persuades healthcare professionals that their child is ill when they're perfectly healthy.
  • Exaggerates or lies about their child's symptoms.
  • Manipulates test results to suggest the presence of illness – for example, by putting glucose in urine samples to suggest the child has diabetes.
  • Deliberately induces symptoms of illness – for example, by poisoning her child with unnecessary medication or other substances.

Resources

HM Government - Safeguarding Children in Whom Illness is Fabricated or Induced

Safeguarding Children in Whom Illness is Fabricated or Induced - Please note, in the absence of a designated doctor, please contact the designated nurses for help and advice (contact details are shown on Page 12 of the policy).

Perplexing Presentations, Fabricated or Induced Illness in Children RCPCH Guidance 2021