BACKGROUND: In representative cases of Munchausen by internet (MBI), an individual (or``poser") goes online to falsely report or exaggerate illnesses or life crises . The principal goal, as in factitious disorder imposed on self or another, is to garner emotional satisfaction . We provide the first evidence that MBI can target a specific type of health care provider-in this case, birthing doulas .
METHODS: We describe 5 cases in which individuals have utilized social media platforms to report factitious perinatal illnesses and crises, including neonatal death, in real time . Current health headlines, such as those involving the COVID-19 pandemic, can be relevant to the ruses . Posers can engage in deceptions with several health care professionals concurrently or serially, and may portray multiple people (`` sock puppets") at the same time .
RESULTS: MBI has consequences that can be highly disruptive . In the cases highlighted in this report, many hours of support were given to individuals who had fabricated their pregnancies, infants, and perinatal complications . The doulas experienced feelings ranging from resignation to anger and betrayal .
CONCLUSIONS: Health care professionals of all types who offer services online should be vigilant to the risks of potential MBI.