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Baby boy was left with cerebral palsy after doctors dismissed his pregnant mum’s stomach pain

A baby boy suffered irreversible brain damage because of NHS blunders.

Shanto Khaliquzzaman developed cerebral palsy which has left him unable to walk, talk or sit up without assistance and will need life-long care after being starved of oxygen in the womb.

His mother Dilshad Sultana, 31, was 40 weeks pregnant and just 18 days away from a planned C-section when she began experiencing stomach pain and felt reduced movement in her tummy. 

She rang the hospital around 5pm that same day, in June 2019. But medics told her to delay coming to hospital and instead take a warm bath, although it’s unclear why. 

When Ms Sultana, from Sutton Coldfield, eventually arrived at hospital at 10.30pm that evening, midwifery staff then failed to recognise her baby’s deteriorating heartbeat. 

Dilshad Sultana, 31, launched legal action against Birmingham Women’s and Children’s NHS Foundation Trust after her son Shanto Khaliquzzaman was starved of oxygen and developed cerebral palsy that has left him unable to walk, talk or sit up without assistance

At 40 weeks pregnant and just 18 days away from a planned c-section, Ms Sultana rang the hospital around 5pm on June 20, 2019 after experiencing stomach pain and complained of reduced movement. But medics told her to delay coming to hospital and instead take a warm bath

At 40 weeks pregnant and just 18 days away from a planned c-section, Ms Sultana rang the hospital around 5pm on June 20, 2019 after experiencing stomach pain and complained of reduced movement. But medics told her to delay coming to hospital and instead take a warm bath

Birmingham Women's and Children's NHS Foundation Trust admitted liability and has now made made a voluntary interim payment, which has not been disclosed. A final settlement will be finalised once Mr Khaliquzzaman is older and the full extent of his future life-long care needs are established

Birmingham Women’s and Children’s NHS Foundation Trust admitted liability and has now made made a voluntary interim payment, which has not been disclosed. A final settlement will be finalised once Mr Khaliquzzaman is older and the full extent of his future life-long care needs are established

Shanto was delivered by emergency caesarean at 1.15am the next day.

But the boy, now three, had to be resuscitated and spent 22 days on a ventilator in intensive care fighting for his life. 

Ms Sultana, 31, launched legal action against Birmingham Women’s and Children’s NHS Foundation Trust. 

Tests revealed delays in Shanto’s birth had left him with extreme brain injury, multiple brain haemorrhages and suffering a cardiac arrest. 

What is cerebral palsy?

Cerebral palsy is the name for a set of conditions affecting movement and co-ordination stemming from a problem with the brain that takes place before, during or soon after birth.

Symptoms are not typically obvious immediately after a child is born — but instead normally become noticeable after two or three years.

They include delays in reaching development milestones, such as:

  • Not sitting by eight months
  • Not walking by 18 months
  • Appearing too stiff or too floppy
  • Walking on tip-toes
  • Weak arms or legs
  • Fidgety, jerky or clumsy movements
  • Random, uncontrolled movements

Difficulty speaking, swallowing or seeing — along with learning difficulties — can also be symptoms.

Cerebral palsy symptoms can be caused by a number of things and are not necessarily an indication of the condition, which can occur if a child’s brain does not develop normally while in the womb, or is damaged during or soon after birth.

Causes include bleeding in the baby’s brain, reduced blood and oxygen supply, infection caught by the mother while pregnant, asphyxiation during a difficult birth, meningitis or a serious head injury – though the precise cause is often not clear.

There is no cure currently, but physiotherapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy and medication are often used as treatment.

Each person living with the condition is affected in a different way, but generally speaking most children live into adult life and some can live for many decades.

Source: NHS 

The Trust has now admitted liability and has now made made a voluntary interim payment, which has not been disclosed. 

A final settlement will be finalised once Shanto is older and the full extent of his future life-long care needs are established.

Dr Fiona Reynolds, chief medical officer at Birmingham Women’s and Children’s NHS Foundation Trust, told MailOnline: ‘We’d like to offer our heartfelt apologies again to the family.

‘It’s clear the standard of care we offered to them fell below those required and expected. For this, we are truly sorry.’

Advised on the phone to have a bath on June 20, 2019, Ms Sultana was told to call back when her contractions were coming every three minutes. 

But she arrived at Birmingham Women’s Hospital five hours later knowing ‘something wasn’t quite right’. 

Ms Sultana said: ‘When I arrived at hospital I told the midwives that I couldn’t feel my baby move but they tried to reassure me that they were monitoring it. 

‘I knew something wasn’t quite right but it felt that they weren’t really listening to me.

‘As the hours went by nothing was really done then I was suddenly told I was having a C-section.

‘At that point it felt like everyone was in a rush. 

‘There were doctors and nurses but it was so quiet.’

She added: ‘When Shanto was born I immediately feared the worse. 

‘He looked very poorly and then I was told he was being taken to neo-natal intensive care.’

Doctors unsuccessfully tried to bring him off a ventilator aged 10 days and palliative care options were discussed. 

However, two weeks later he began to breathe for himself. He was later diagnosed with cerebral palsy. 

Cerebral palsy is a life-long condition that occurs when a baby’s brain is starved of oxygen during or shortly after birth. 

In most cases, this is due to a difficult labour, but it can occur as a result of an infection of the brain or head injury.

Those with the condition may experience difficulties with movement and co-ordination, as well as loss of speech, hearing and vision and spinal deformities, and may need lifelong care.

Disability charity Scope says an estimated 1,800 children are diagnosed with cerebral palsy in the UK every year.

In 2020-2021, 281 cases of preventable cerebral palsy were reported – the highest number since 2010 and a fifth of the ten-year total. 

Ms Sultana, who also has a four-year-old daughter Anjana, added: ‘Seeing Shanto in intensive care fighting for his life was the hardest thing I think I’ll ever to have go through.

‘All the family were hoping and praying he would somehow pull through. Palliative care was discussed but we had to give him every chance possible.

‘We’re so grateful to have Shanto in our lives and so proud of the fight and determination he shows every day.’ 

Doctors unsuccessfully tried to bring Shanto off a ventilator aged 10 days and palliative care options were discussed. However, two weeks later he began to breathe for himself. He was later diagnosed with cerebral palsy.

Doctors unsuccessfully tried to bring Shanto off a ventilator aged 10 days and palliative care options were discussed. However, two weeks later he began to breathe for himself. He was later diagnosed with cerebral palsy.

Following legal action brought by law firm Irwin Mitchell against Birmingham Women’s and Children’s NHS Foundation Trust on behalf of the family, the Trust admitted there was a failure to advise Ms Sultana to attend hospital when she initially called on June 20, 2019

Following legal action brought by law firm Irwin Mitchell against Birmingham Women’s and Children’s NHS Foundation Trust on behalf of the family, the Trust admitted there was a failure to advise Ms Sultana to attend hospital when she initially called on June 20, 2019

Ms Sultana, who also has a four-year-old daughter Anjana, said: 'Seeing Shanto in intensive care fighting for his life was the hardest thing I think I'll ever to have go through. Pictured above, Ms Sultana with Shanto and Anjana

Ms Sultana, who also has a four-year-old daughter Anjana, said: ‘Seeing Shanto in intensive care fighting for his life was the hardest thing I think I’ll ever to have go through. Pictured above, Ms Sultana with Shanto and Anjana 

Following legal action brought by law firm Irwin Mitchell against Birmingham Women’s and Children’s NHS Foundation Trust on behalf of the family, the Trust admitted there was a failure to advise Ms Sultana to attend hospital when she initially called.

Had Ms Sultana been told to attend hospital, on the balance of probabilities, a deterioration in his heartrate would have been detected, leading to an earlier delivery, Irwin Mitchell said. 

Shanto would, therefore, have been delivered before he suffered permanent brain damage, the trust are also said to have acknowledged.

The interim payment will allow the family to move to a new home specifically adapted to meet his extensive care, therapy and equipment needs.

Tests revealed delays in Shanto's birth had left him with extreme brain injury, multiple brain haemorrhages and suffering a cardiac arrest

Tests revealed delays in Shanto’s birth had left him with extreme brain injury, multiple brain haemorrhages and suffering a cardiac arrest

‘While we have answers as to what happened to him, trying to come to terms with how Shanto won’t have the life we hoped for him is difficult,’ Ms Sultana said. 

‘He’s three and is supposed to walk and talk, develop as a person, and cause mischief with his big sister.

‘However, he can’t do any of that. I can’t explain how terrible it feels when my friends’ kids are running around, and he can’t do that because of those mistakes,’ she added. 

‘I just hope that by speaking out I can help prevent other families having to go through what we have.’

Meanwhile, Sara Burns, specialist medical negligence lawyer at Irwin Mitchell who represented the family, said: ‘This is a tragic case which resulted in Shanto suffering devastating but avoidable injuries which will affect him and his family for the rest of his life.

‘While we welcome the trust’s co-operation in this case, the family would rather not be in this position.

‘What happened to Shanto is a stark reminder of the life-changing consequences families can be left to face because of maternity care failings.

She added: ‘Every second counts when delivering babies in distress and it’s vital that lessons are learned so others don’t have to suffer the pain that this family have been through.

‘We continue to campaign for improvements in maternity safety nationally.’

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