Mum’s condition a factor in baby death tragedy

Burnley General Hospital. (s)
Burnley General Hospital. (s)
Share this article

A three-day-old baby boy died in Burnley General Hospital from complications arising from his diabetic mother.

Thomas Gaskarth, born at the Royal Preston Hospital, was transferred to Burnley General’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit where he died from multi organ failure on November 29th, 2012.

His mother, nurse Joanne Gaskarth, suffered from Type 1 diabetes, a condition she was only diagnosed with aged 26, which she admitted came as a shock and completely changed her life.

An inquest at Burnley Town Hall heard how Miss Gaskarth had struggled with the condition, and had transferred her diabetic care to Preston Hospital after having differences with a specialist at the Royal Blackburn Hospital.

Consultant Dr Simon Howell told the hearing that Miss Gaskarth’s own control of her blood glucose levels had been poor and had resulted in her twice being hospitalised with diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) – a potentially life-threatening condition which results from a shortage of insulin.

Pathologist Dr Naomi Carter found that Thomas had been born at 36 weeks in a very poorly condition and died from severe hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE).

She added that pregnancies in diabetic mothers are high risk, and that Thomas had a slow heart rate when he was born.

Recording a narrative conclusion, East Lancashire Coroner Mr Richard Taylor said: “The loss of a child is very difficult to come to terms with and my feelings go out to the parents.

“Thomas was not a planned birth, which is not unusual.

“The problem was that his mother was a Type 1 diabetic, a very difficult life-changing illness, which she accepted she had problems controlling.

“I have heard no evidence of problems with her treatment. Independent expert on maternal and foetal medicine, Mr Stephen Walkinshaw, believes Miss Gaskarth’s DKA had evolved some hours before labour.”