Tuesday 17 September 2019

Tragic baby suffered from lack of oxygen shortly before birth

Sandra Cullivan with a photo of her son Stevie. Photo: Tony Gavin
Sandra Cullivan with a photo of her son Stevie. Photo: Tony Gavin

Louise Roseingrave

A baby boy died after he suffered a lack of oxygen to the brain shortly before birth, an inquest heard.

Stevie Cullivan was born limp and unresponsive at Midlands Regional Hospital at 11.59pm on April 28, 2015.

His mother Sandra Cullivan from Longwood, Co Meath, was grieving the loss of her husband Stephen Cullivan, who died from a heart attack five months previously.

She lost her baby two days after his birth. The second day of an inquest into the child's death heard from pathologist Dr Emma Doyle. The baby suffered lack of oxygen or stress before delivery, the pathologist said, but could not give the exact time this occurred.

Delivery had progressed rapidly and staff were not expecting any problems at birth, the inquest heard. Ms Cullivan had experienced pains but was deemed not to be in labour by a midwife at 10pm. She spent 90 minutes alone in a private room in the hospital, a crucial period during which there was no CTG monitoring of the foetal heart rate.

Dr Michael O'Grady, consultant paediatrician at the hospital in Mullingar, told the inquest he was called in to the hospital about seven minutes after midnight. He said the paediatric team was not aware that an extremely sick baby would be delivered. Dr O'Grady said the hospital in Mullingar dealt with around 2,500 births a year but only two or three of these would require advanced resuscitation.

Chest compressions began shortly after birth and baby Stevie was given the opiate antidote narcan in a bid to counter any effects of pethidine, the pain relief given to his mother two hours earlier. The infant was stabilised before he was transferred to the Rotunda in Dublin shortly after 8am.

Rotunda-based paediatrician Adrienne Foran described the baby as clinically and profoundly encephalopathic. Withdrawal of care was recommended. Staff continued to care for Stevie to allow his mother to spend some time with him. The baby was baptised and died at 1.40am on April 30.

Cause of death was severe hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy as a result of an acute hypoxic ischemic event on a background of foetal vascular malperfusion.

Coroner Dr Myra Cullinane adjourned the inquest to deliver her verdict on November 15.

Irish Independent

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