fbpx Skip to main content
CALL US: 01482 323 697
Williamsons News
Case Study

Wrongful birth: The issues with Aicardi Syndrome

8 May 2017

A wrongful birth case is a term used by the courts when they consider the issue of wrongful contraception and wrongful birth, a claim that is pursued by the parents of the child. Wrongful birth actions aim to compensate parents who are negligently deprived by health professionals, of their right to a reproductive choice. The topic is both sensitive and complex from a personal, legal and medical perspective.

Newborn babies can be a challenging! For a parent in these cases they are, through no fault of their own, placed in a situation of great hardship and emotional distress. Over the years, there have been significant developments in pre-natal technology, imaging and checks to identify genetic abnormalities, even if such an abnormality is rare.  Whilst some parents may decide to continue with the pregnancy, some parents may make the difficult decision to have a termination for personal reasons or because they think that the actual birth could significantly affect the quality of life for both the parents and their unborn child.

When such a claim arises, Solicitors will seek to determine what information should have been given to the parents prior to the birth and what difference this information would have made.

Wayne Walker, Solicitor within our Clinical Negligence Department, is currently investigating a case where a young lady gave birth to a severely disabled child. Prior to the pregnancy, our client had become pregnant where the foetus required an intra utero operation to stent a renal issue. Having undergone the stenting operation, the stent had malfunctioned causing issues to the foetus leading to our client being informed that the child, if born, would have no quality of life. With this information, our client made the difficult decision to terminate the pregnancy.

A number of years later, our client became pregnant again and on this occasion, as a result of the previous foetal issues, she underwent scans at 9 week, 13 week, 15 week, 17 week, 21 week and approximately 4 further scans thereafter. On each scan, the sonographer results reported a normal foetus so the pregnancy went to term. The child was born at 41 weeks gestation.

After 2 days at home, the child began to fit and these fits were numerous so our client took the child to the hospital. Upon further investigations using an MRI, it was noted that the child suffered from complete agenesis of the corpus callosum (centre of the brain), along with other brain abnormalities that should have been identified during the pregnancy. As a result, the child has no quality of life. She is wheelchair bound and suffers from Aicardi Syndrome (a rare neurologic disorder first described by the French neurologist, Dr. Jean Aicardi, in 1965).

Had appropriate investigations been undertaken, those treating our client should have recommended a termination as, a complete agenesis of the corpus callosum, as well as other brain abnormalities, would provide for an 80% chance that the child would be severely disabled.

Our client’s child cannot walk or talk. Her hearing is impaired and her sight is not effective. She can react to sights and sounds but too much stimulation results in approximately 20-30 seizures per day. She required around the clock care and is fed via a feeding tube (NG Tube). Sadly, her life expectancy is not expected to surpass 28 years.

Lizzie Mould, a paralegal at Williamsons Solicitor has considered the sensitivity of this issue and has investigated an extremely rare condition called Aicardi Syndrome of which, there are at least 4,000 cases worldwide.

The diagnosis can be made in the antenatal period using clinical imaging, a prenatal ultrasound, an examination, an ophthalmology exam and a fetal MRI in order to recognise such a condition.

After the birth, the majority of children are able to communicate with gestures, sounds and expressions. Some will learn to sit independently but for a small number of children affected by the condition, the effects of the disability can be significant. The child may have seizures, impaired vision, hearing loss, scoliosis, and issues with growth and bone development.

Whilst there is some English case law on ‘wrongful births’; cases concerning Aicardi Syndrome, particularly in English law, is limited.

In 2014, a couple from New Zealand started investigating a legal claim on behalf of their daughter, Aria Ball who had actually been born in Australia. Whilst her parents love her unconditionally, it is claimed that had they known about Aria’s condition before her birth, they would have considered a termination. For her parents, the financial burden is increasingly difficult. Her parents are not Australian citizens and therefore, they have to fund the cost of the medical treatment, care and equipment that their daughter requires, without any financial support, other than that which is made through their income.

Her parents claim that the treating medical professionals failed to notice that Aria had a severe brain defect during the 19 week ultrasound, the 22 week ultrasound or the foetal MRI at 26 weeks. Defects can be detected as early as 12 weeks into the pregnancy. Even after Aria was born, a confirmed diagnosis was not made until she was 5 months old. The Couple are currently involved in a legal dispute with the hospital and in late 2016, it was confirmed that they were seeking $2.5 Million in damages. Only time will tell if this case will be successful.

In English law, wrongful birth cases are often difficult to predict. In the case of A v East Kent Hospitals University Foundation Trust (2015), it was determined that the mother would not have had a termination even if she had been told about her child’s disability during her pre-natal period. In the more recent case of Amanda McGuine v Lewisham & Greenwich NHS Trust (2017) it was held that the clinicians, who had undertaken the fifth and seventh scans (the consultant in charge of the Claimant’s care and a specialist in fetal medicine respectively) had been negligent and the parents were successful. It seems that this area of law is still under considerable development.

At Williamsons Solicitors, we have the skills, knowledge and staff to deal with sensitive issues such as this and out Clinical Negligence Team have the ability to handle the complexities of claims concerning wrongful birth.

For more information on the Aicardi Syndrome, please visit https://aicardisyndromefoundation.org/aicardi-syndrome/


Contact UsBack to top
Read some reviews from our clients

4.88 Average

137 Reviews

Mr Hall

Always upfront, helpful and on the ball.

Mr and Mrs England

We picked Williamsons to write our wills based on the reviews online. It’s true to say that those which recommended their services were totally accurate. We started the process only having a vague notion of our requirements but with Alison’s excellent coaching we ended up with wills which have ensured our wishes are fully captured. The whole process was friendly yet very thorough and we were given clear, understandable, explanations of each and every element. From this experience we have no hesitation in recommending Williamsons services.

Mrs Woodhouse

Professional and prompt Highly recommend

Gary G

I used a google search looking for local solicitors within the Hull area and Williamson's where at the top which provided me with great confidence to contact them. I 110% satisfied with the service I received I could not fault any of it from the very first phone call to the final summary email. Service was exceptional. Bill him self was great and very helpful.

Carla

Wayne Walker was amazing throughout my whole case. He kept me upto date and always had time for me when I needed support. I couldnt have asked for a better firm of solicitors would highly recommend to anyone.

Mr Stephenson a

Great service. Fast and informative responses. Great at answering our first time buyer questions. No problems at all!

Anonymous

Couldn’t ask for a better service, very helpful.

Anonymous

Absolutely first class service from start to finish. Open, transparent with costs and all work carried out in a fast timely manner. Highly recommend the use of Williamson’s conveyance services.

Miss S

Very good company. I will always use Williamson's for any legal matter. Efficient,friendly and helpful.

Anonymous

Would just like to mention your Bridlington branch is so highly recommended. We have had the most efficient & fast legal work done by one of your brilliant Solicitors called Lauren. Can I add no stress what's so ever. Thankyou Williamsons Solicitors & thankyou Lauren.

Anonymous

Have used this firm for both buying and selling properties and would use them again. They've always been fair and reasonable in what they charged and done their best to keep me informed on developments in above transactions.

Philip P

Williamson's Solicitors provide first class advice, efficiency and are very obliging. We would highly recommend their services.

Mr and Mrs Emmerson

After a long haul with our house sale, we where pleased with the professionalism shown at all times, with friendly approachable staff at Bridlington.

Mr & M

Excellent professional service throughout, couldn't fault anything. We found them to be very thorough and looked out for our best interests at all times! We are intending to purchase another rental property and will definitely be using Williamsons in Beverley. Thank-you again Amanda for all your help and expertise!

Mrs Gamble

I was very pleased with the service i received from williamsons solicitors every person i dealt with were friendly understanding and very professional and especially mr tim slow who helped me with everything i would highly recommend williamsons solicitors

Mr & M

Very good from Carey Robinson, but haven't received the mortgage money in our account that was promised today. Please advise Cheers Rose Horspool

Peter S

Courteous, polite, prompt and efficient service. Very pleased I hired you.

Mr Lancaster

After using your company for the 1st time i found Gordon Sewell and his secretary very helpful and understanding and his advice was excellent. I will definitely recommend this company to my friends and family and i will certainly use this company again if needed . Many Thanks Gordon for a first class service Regards Richard Lancaster

Peter I

Nice people, easy to talk to and got straight to the problems I had with a few issues with my employer. Very happy with the service I received.

Mr & M

We have used Williamsons Solicitors for buying 2 houses and selling one excellent quick and efficient service. We have just used Williiamsons again to make our wills with Rebecca Bisby who again maintained the high standards we have come to recognise from Williamsons. We would highly recommend them quick efficient and very professional. We not only visited Williamsons in persons but but emailed and by telephone all of which quickly answered.

Mrs Stacey

gordon sewell was emphatic.made me feel at ease and was very approachable through a tough time.,along with maisie who was so helpful too..thankyou