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May 17, 2021

Origins and Early Management of Medical Child Abuse in Routine Pediatric Care

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Psychology, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa
  • 2Department of Internal Medicine, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa
  • 3Department of Pediatrics, Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut
JAMA Pediatr. 2021;175(8):771-772. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2021.0919

Media and clinical case reports of medical child abuse (MCA; also known as caregiver-fabricated illness1) depict dramatic examples of severe child maltreatment. Absent from these reports are accounts of how these cases develop. Recent commentaries have noted the challenges of caring for children with chronic somatic symptoms and the insidious processes through which children’s lives become overmedicalized by well-meaning pediatricians.2,3 In this Viewpoint, we aim to reinforce these important points by explaining how overmedicalization can escalate into MCA.

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