Neurological Manifestations of Medical Child Abuse
Medical child abuse occurs when a child receives unnecessary and harmful, or potentially harmful, medical care at the instigation of a caretaker through exaggeration, falsification, or induction of symptoms of illness in a child. Neurological manifestations are common with this type of maltreatment.
We sought to review common reported neurological manifestations that may alert the clinician to consider medical child abuse. In addition, the possible sequelae of this form of child maltreatment is discussed, as well as practice recommendations for establishing the diagnosis and stopping the abuse once it is identified.
A review of the medical literature was conducted regarding the reported neurological presentations of this entity.
Neurological manifestations of medical child abuse include false reports of apparent life-threatening events and seizures and reports of induction of symptoms from poisoning. Failure to correlate objective findings with subjective complaints may lead to unnecessary and potentially harmful testing or treatment. This form of child maltreatment puts a child at significant risk of long-term morbidity and mortality.
A wide variety of neurological manifestations have been reported in cases of medical child abuse. It is important for the practicing neurologist to include medical child abuse on the differential diagnosis.
Thackeray, J. D.,
& Brink, F. W.
(2016). Neurological Manifestations of Medical Child Abuse. Pediatric Neurology, 54, 22-28.