munchausen's syndrome by proxy, also known as fabricated or induced illness
Fabricated or induced illness (FII) is a rare form of child abuse. It occurs when a parent or carer, usually the child's biological mother, 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. It's difficult to estimate how widespread FII is because many cases may go unreported or undetected. FII can involve children of all ages, but the most severe cases are usually associated with children under 5. In more than 90% of reported cases of FII, the child's mother is responsible for the abuse. However, there have been cases where the father, foster parent, grandparent, guardian, or a healthcare or childcare professional was responsible.
Some carers have unresolved psychological and behavioural problems, such as a history of self-harming, or drug or alcohol misuse. Some have experienced the death of another child. There have also been several reported cases where illness was fabricated or induced for financial reasons - for example, to claim disability benefits.