Thursday, 25 November 2010
AHT: cephalhaematoma, misdiagnosis
A TEN-day-old baby was put in care and his young mother arrested when a bump on his head was misdiagnosed as child abuse, it was reported today.
Dee Crawford, 19, was told to take her newborn Michael back to hospital after she noticed a swelling, which she believed might have happened when he fell against scales at her home in Chester-le-Street, County Durham.
A doctor at the University Hospital of North Durham examined the baby and reported the injury as new, leading to the police and social services being informed.
Ms Crawford was arrested on suspicion of assault and questioned by police before being released on bail.
Meanwhile, Michael was taken away and placed in care, as his mother collapsed in tears.
He had been born by caesarean section just ten days previously on January 19, weighing 9lb 8oz.
Police allowed Ms Crawford to read the doctor's report and, when she was allowed home, she used the internet to research what was claimed against her.
She challenged the doctor's assertion that Michael's swelling could not be a cephalohematoma - regularly caused during labour - as, according to him, they never occur with caesarean section births.
The authorities sought further expert advice, and a paediatric specialist from the Royal Victoria Infirmary ruled the swelling was undoubtedly the result of the difficult labour.
Michael was returned to his mother after spending two-and-a-half weeks apart.
Ms Crawford said: "What happened to me I wouldnt wish on my worst enemy.
"I have lost time with my baby when I should have been bonding with him, and Ill never get that back."
She admitted the authorities had put Michael on the Child Protection Register before he was born, saying that was due to her depression.
A Durham Police spokesman said: "We can confirm that a 19-year-old woman has been arrested on suspicion of assault on February 4, but no further action has since been taken against her."
A Durham County Council spokeswoman said: "For reasons of confidentiality, it is not appropriate for us to comment on individual cases.
"However, we would never consider removing a child from a family in the context of a suspected injury without first taking expert medical advice."