Objective: The professional literature on Munchausen by Proxy (MBP) abuse consists of more than 400 articles, chapters, and books. Most have come from a handful of English-speaking industrialized countries. Our aims were to establish the extent to which published work about MBP has emerged from outside these countries, and to determine the characteristics of any reported cases.
Method: Numerous health care computer databases were queried, and the results supplemented by materials accumulated less formally.
Results: We identified 59 articles from 24 countries describing at least 122 cases in 9 different languages. Among cases in which the information was available, the mother was the sole perpetrator in 86%, the victim was aged between 3 years and 13 years in 52%, and the victim was male in 54%. The presentations of MBP appear to be similar across the world with the exception of induced apnea, which emerged as notably uncommon in this review. An extensive table presents the characteristics of each case.
Conclusions: MBP clearly is not a phenomenon unique to Western or highly medicalized societies. This form of abuse is being increasingly recognized and reported throughout the world. The literature from the US, Canada, UK, Australia, and New Zealand often presupposes access to resources, such as subspecialists and social service agencies, that may be seriously constrained in other countries. The contributions of professionals elsewhere will be vital in ensuring that the efforts in English-speaking industrialized settings to develop standards of care encompass an international perspective.