‘Rare’ infection blamed for baby’s death

Poplar Coroners Court

Poplar Coroners Court - Credit: Archant

A baby died of a rare infection which invaded his mother’s placenta, despite her waters having not broken until she went into labour.

Leo Good was not breathing and had no pulse when he was delivered at home on August 27.

His mother Eleanor Good told Poplar Coroner’s Court her second pregnancy had been uncomplicated, and she had been planning a water birth because it was considered “low risk”.

But once she went into labour, things “moved quickly”, and midwives from Homerton Hospital arrived at her home in Leytonstone an hour and 20 minutes after having been called, just as her waters broke and she started pushing to deliver the baby.

Paramedics detected electrical heart activity and managed to resuscitate him after 25 minutes.

He was rushed to Whipp’s Cross where his parents were given the option of turning off his life support machine or transferral to the specialist baby care unit at Homerton Hospital, which they chose.

“We are going to learn the cause of death was rare,” said Coroner William Dolman who ruled Leo died of natural causes.

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Dr Michael Ashworth, consultant paediatric pathologist at Great Ormond Street Hospital, discovered Leo died from bacterial sepsis due to an inflammation of the placenta and fetal membranes due to a bacterial infection.

The condition is most often associated with prolonged labour.

Dr Ashworth said: “Classically what I would expect to find is the infection happened after the waters broke, with an intact membrane it is not common.”

He explained doctors would administer antibiotics during labour had they been aware the mother had Strep B bacteria, but he had no idea how long she had harboured the infection.

He said: “Whether it was an infection that’s been going on for minutes or hours, it’s complex and depends on the aggressiveness of the organism, the more aggressive it is the faster it is.

“We don’t know when the infection arrived, you would have had fever and feel unwell which you didn’t,” he said.

Coroner William Dolman told Mrs Good: “Everything was done for this little infant to give him a chance but sadly he didn’t make it.

“My sympathy in this tragedy which has come into your life.”