Mom Forget You? Maybe She Has 'Momnesia'

When you have eight children all under the age of 8, it's no easy task to remember their various doctors' appointments, soccer games and dance recitals.

Mothers like Kate Gosselin – whose family has their own show, "Jon and Kate Plus 8," on The Learning Channel – know what it's like to suffer from memory loss as each additional child is born, constantly struggling to keep track of who needs to be where and when.

"It's very difficult," Gosselin says of the logistics for her eight children – two twin girls and one set of sextuplets. "Your brain just goes."

"There is such a thing as 'momnesia,'" added Gosselin, who said that she had never once forgotten an appointment until recently, when she missed her sextuplet's dentist appointments.

'Momnesia,' a term used by many mothers to describe their worsening memory function as they birth more children, is – while not a medical condition – a symptom several moms told ABCNEWS.com cause them to leave children behind at school and forget dentist appointments.

Forgetting Your Kids

Liz Thompson, a mom of four, told ABCNEWS.com that she "can't remember a darn thing anymore."

"When I take the kids to the doctor and they ask how old they are or when their birthdays are, I have to ask the kids," said Thompson, who writes for the New Jersey Moms' Blog. "The more children you have the less brain cells you're left with at the end of the day."

One Virginia mother of seven said that she knows "momnesia" all too well.

"Basically, as a mom, you live in a haze and fog of forgetting the most ordinary things because you have many things pulling for your attention," said Hannah Keeley, founder of Totalmom.com.

Keeley told ABCNEWS.com that she once almost drove out her driveway to go to the library before she noticed that her youngest was still asleep in the crib in the house.

"Fortunately the baby was fine and we didn't pull out of the driveway," said Keeley. "But I can't even tell you how many times I've had the infamous cup of coffee on the top of the car that just flies off later during the trip."

Dr. Jeffrey Burns, the director of the Alzheimer & Memory Center at the University of Kansas Hospital and Medical Center, told ABCNEWS.com that it is an attention problem – more so than a memory one – that distracts mothers from remembering their most precious cargo.

"The bottom line is that distractions and inattention impacts memory, so that if you have a lot of kids or you have a lot going on, your memory of certain things and your recall will be impacted," said Burns, who is a father of seven with the eighth on the way.

And while Burns said that "momnesia" isn't a medical condition, it is true that the more distractions there are, and the more directions your attention is pulled in, the greater the effect on your memory function.

"Certainly the more kids you have the more distracted you will be," said Burns.

Parents' Memory Loss Turns Deadly

In the worst cases, incidents where parents forget their children can end tragically.

Such was the case for the Rimer family, when Jason, their youngest of eight children, was found dead Sunday after spending 17 hours in their family's SUV.

Stan Rimer, Jason's father, talked to Las Vegas radio station KDWN about the incident, describing what happened as a "tragic mistake."

"We usually keep Sundays a quiet day, and one got away from us," Rimer told the station of his four-year-old son. "And it never crossed my mind that we had one dying in the car."

Emergency doctor Richard O'Brien, who works at Pennsylvania's Moses Taylor Hospital, told ABCNEWS.com that the patients he treats are often there due to parenting mishaps.

"Children can get injured remarkably quickly, even in seconds," said O'Brien. "I've had dozens, if not more, children brought in after they hit their forehead on the coffee table causing a nasty laceration while the parent was seated literally just out of arm's reach."

"No matter how close you are, if you lose your focus for just a few seconds, the child can get injured," added O'Brien. "We see this all the time, and although parents can feel 'guilty,' they are not neglecting their children, they're just being human."

Gosselin, who herself is one of five children, said that she was once left behind at church and remembers being rattled afterward but says now she can see how parents can make mistakes.

"Life gets crazy and you get carried away and things come up and you don't mean to forget something important but I can see how it can happen," said Gosselin. "Life moves so fast the pace is just exhausting.

"We've never left a kid behind. But I always wonder if we will."

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