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June 26, 1987

Munchausen's May Occur in Younger Persons

JAMA. 1987;257(24):3332. doi:10.1001/jama.1987.03390240022007

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FIRST DESCRIBED 36 years ago (Lancet 1951;1:339-341), Munchausen's syndrome has been considered a rare psychiatric aberration occurring predominantly in adult men in their late 30s. However, evidence presented at the Society for Adolescent Medicine meeting in Seattle suggests that, in fact, the syndrome may be much more common, occur at a much earlier age, and have its origin in childhood abuse or neglect.

Ed Tyson, MD, and Dennis Fortenberry, MD, of the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Oklahoma City, were introduced to Munchausen's syndrome in the way that many other clinicians have been: by encountering a patient with a long history of hospital admissions for numerous unrelated disorders. In this case, the patient was a 19-year-old woman who, over a three-year period, had seen 31 physicians in 12 specialties, been hospitalized 15 times for 154 days, and undergone 38 radiological procedures and 182 laboratory tests for a variety of