Intended for healthcare professionals


Report sparks controversy over cause of children’s psychiatric symptoms

BMJ 2008; 337 doi: (Published 01 December 2008) Cite this as: BMJ 2008;337:a2818
  1. Karen McColl
  1. 1Savoie, France

    A new report from Save the Children and the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm has reignited debate in Sweden over whether several hundred children of asylum seekers had a psychiatric syndrome or whether their parents were fabricating or exaggerating their symptoms to win the right to stay in the country.

    Children with what is known as pervasive refusal syndrome—dubbed “apathetic children” by the Swedish media—withdraw from all contact and have severe loss of function, becoming unable to walk, talk, eat, or drink. In the most severe cases children become incontinent and require feeding …

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