Letters: No such illness
Thursday 19 August 1999
The repeated claim that the serial killer Beverly Allitt was a Munchhausen syndrome by proxy case demonises many mothers whose only crime is to be struggling with children with difficult to diagnose and puzzling illnesses, perhaps genetic in origin. There are well documented cases of genuine illnesses being overlooked, left untreated and children suffering permanent harm because of a false allegation of MSBP.
It is interesting to note that paediatricans have shifted their ground in recent years from claiming that MSBP is common and under-reported to saying it is rare. It is in fact rarer than most uncommon childhood illnesses and, compared with the more common difficult to treat childhood illnesses, MSBP is so much rarer.
Paediatricians should admit that they cannot say what is wrong. There is no rational place in any of this for a latter-day witch-finder general to be accusing the mother of having a psychiatric disorder, which psychiatrists now seem to agree does not exist.
To mark Tolstoy's 186th birthdaybooks
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Amy Winehouse statue unveiled in Camden
- 2 Lego breaks out of the toy box and heads for the gallery
- 3 George Galloway on Scottish independence: The political class is doing what Hitler couldn’t – destroying Britain
- 4 Headaches, fry ups, and hair of the dog - why do we get hangovers, and is there such thing as a 'cure'?
- 5 A bottle of wine a day is not bad for you and abstaining is worse than drinking, scientist claims
George Galloway on Scottish independence: The political class is doing what Hitler couldn’t – destroying Britain
Daniele Watts: Django Unchained actress detained in Los Angeles after being mistaken for a prostitute
Scottish independence: Nationalist leader Jim Sillars threatens pro-union companies with 'day of reckoning' after independence
Scottish independence: Yes campaign feels the heat as Alex Salmond's NHS claims come under furious attack
Scottish independence: Britain faces 'constitutional crisis' at next election
£23m Birmingham cycle scheme is attacked by Tory councillor for not catering to the elderly