Legal threat after baby died 35 minutes after birth

Princess Anne Hospital

Princess Anne Hospital

First published in New Forest Daily Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Crime Reporter

A FAMILY are threatening legal action against a Hampshire hospital after their baby died just 35 minutes after birth.

Georgina Wells and her partner Bradley Smith believe their daughter Layla may have been given more of a “fighting chance” if an emergency caesarean had been carried out sooner.

It comes after an inquest ruled that the newborn died after being struck by a rare syndrome in the early stages of labour, leaving her unable to breathe once delivered.

Southampton Coroner’s Court heard that Georgina, from New Milton, had enjoyed a problem-free pregnancy right up until she went into labour.

The 22-year-old was admitted to the Princess Anne Hospital, in Southampton, just after 8am on July 20, 2010, as normal.

But as the hours passed fluctuations with the baby’s heart rate and evidence of meconium – a baby’s first stool which is usually passed after delivery – coming from the mother, doctors decided to perform an emergency caesarean.

Layla was born at 11.53am but she was floppy, covered in meconium and not breathing.

Despite the best efforts of medics to resuscitate her, she was pronounced dead 35 minutes later.

A post-mortem revealed that Layla had suffered from Meconium Aspiration Syndrome, caused by a distressing event within the womb at least an hour before her death.

The distress caused her to pass the meconium, which mixed with the fluid within the womb that she then inhaled.

The mecoium was inhaled so deep into her lungs that she couldn’t breathe.

Dr VJ Baral, who tried to resuscitate Layla, said: “We were dealing with a case of severe meconium aspiration.

“No matter what we tried, we tried everything there was, we wouldn’t have altered the outcome.”

Consultant Dr David Howe added that all the “appropriate decisions” were made in what was an “exceptional” case and that the presence of thick meconium during labour is not an indication to deliver the baby immediately, as it happens with 25 per cent of births.

He added: “I have never had a baby that has failed to resuscitate because of meconium aspiration before.”

Legal action Coroner Keith Wiseman said: “Layla Wells suffered a hypoxic event of unknown cause and origin in utero: this in turn led to the aspiration of meconium into the lungs prior to birth.

“This syndrome fatally compromised her respiratory system in life.”

Georgina Wells told the Daily Echo after the inquest that they would be taking legal action over her care during labour.

She said: “We feel that had a caesarean taken place earlier, Layla may have been given more of a fighting chance.

“To come home without our child was really hard and we did struggle. I just hope this inquest will show other parents how dangerous meconium can be.”

Dr Michael Marsh, medical director at University Hospital Southampton, said their thoughts are with the family at this difficult time.

He added: “While we hope the information provided at inquest and the Coroner’s verdict will help to reassure and provide some comfort, we will continue to offer them our full support.”

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