Serial factitious disorder and Munchausen by proxy in pregnancy

Authors


Marc D. Feldman, MD, The University of Alabama, c/o 2609 Crowne Ridge Court, Birmingham, AL 35243-5351, USA
Tel.: + 1 205 298 7740
Fax: + 1 205 298 7740
Email: mdf@myself.com

Summary

Factitious disorder, including Munchausen syndrome, is seldom documented among pregnant patients but can have powerful consequences. We report on a 44-year-old woman who, over a period of two decades, self-induced labour and delivery in five consecutive pregnancies. She precipitated labour by rupturing her own amniotic sac with a fingernail or cervical manipulation, or misappropriating and self-administering prostaglandin suppositories from the hospital unit on which she worked as a nurse. Preterm deliveries resulted in fetal demise in one case and in neonatal intensive care treatment for two of the offspring. One of the surviving children has cerebral palsy attributable to the mother's factitious illness behaviour, which raises the spectre of Munchausen by proxy maltreatment. The patient sought attention and care through the ruses, which have never been uncovered by her obstetric and gynaecologic caregivers. Indeed, she underwent an unnecessary hysterectomy because of the illusion of heavy menstrual bleeding. Most recently, the patient has been engaging in surreptitious autophlebotomy to force blood transfusions.

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