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Experts: Social media can feed Munchausen by proxy

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (AP) -- Experts say the New York case of a mother accused of fatally poisoning her 5-year-old son with salt appears to be an example of how social media feeds into Munchausen by proxy, a disorder in which caretakers intentionally harm children and then bask in the attention.

Lacey Spears is charged with depraved murder and manslaughter in the January death of her son, Garnett, whose sodium levels rose to dangerous levels with no medical explanation. Spears kept friends updated on her son's frequent hospitalizations with musings on Facebook, Twitter and MySpace.

Some experts believe the Internet may play a role in what studies estimate to be about 600 cases of Munchausen a year in the U.S. That's because social media can greatly expand the attention and sympathy that can be generated.
   AP-WF-07-19-14 1704GMT
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