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Last Updated: Thursday, 29 May, 2003, 12:15 GMT 13:15 UK
'Genetic link' to baby deaths
Trupti Patel
Mrs Patel's children may have suffered from a genetic disorder
A genetic disorder could be to blame for the deaths of a mother's three babies, a court has heard.

Professor Michael Patton said the evidence "strongly suggested" there was a genetic disorder in Trupti Patel's family.

Pharmacist Mrs Patel, 35, of Maidenhead, Berkshire, denies murdering her two baby sons, Amar and Jamie, and her baby daughter, Mia, between 1997 and 2001.

At her trial at Reading Crown Court, jurors heard how Mrs Patel's grandmother, Surajben Patel, 80, from a small village in the Gujarat region of India, lost five of her 12 children within six weeks of them being born.

Professor Patton told the court on Thursday he believed the deaths of three of Mrs Patel's maternal grandmother's children were relevant to the collapse and subsequent deaths of her own babies.

I believe it is strongly suggested there is a genetic disorder in this family
Professor Michael Patton

Professor Patton, a consultant in clinical genetics at St George's Hospital, part of the University of London, and a professor of medical genetics, said the evidence appeared to show the deaths of two of Mrs Patel's grandmother's children were not relevant to the case.

He said it appeared as though one had died because she was born prematurely while another had died from gastro-enteritis.

However, he said the other three deaths were relevant to whether there was a genetic disorder in the Patel family which could account for the deaths of Trupti Patel's three babies.

"We have three deaths here in which infection did not seem to play a part and in which prematurity did not play a part, so I think they are unexplained deaths," he said.

'Abnormal gene'

Professor Patton said Trupti Patel could have inherited a genetic disorder known as Long QT Syndrome - a disorder which affects the rhythm of the heart and which can cause sudden death.

Another inheritance mechanism, known as mitochondrial inheritance - in which an abnormal gene is contained within a mother's egg - could also account for how Trupti Patel might have inherited a disorder.

Kieran Coonan QC, defending, asked Professor Patton if he excluded the possibility of a genetic disorder accounting for the death of Trupti Patel's three babies.

Professor Patton replied: "No I do not, I believe it is strongly suggested there is a genetic disorder in this family."

The trial continues.

The BBC's Navdip Dhariwal
"The professor told the court that there is still an awful lot to learn about genetics"

Patel grandmother 'lost five babies'
28 May 03  |  Berkshire
Babies taken to 'brink of death'
23 May 03  |  Berkshire
Mother denies killing children
22 May 03  |  Berkshire
Accused mother 'welcomed inquiry'
07 May 03  |  Berkshire
Accused mother wanted attention
06 May 03  |  Berkshire
'Murdered baby's tests normal'
02 May 03  |  Berkshire

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