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Tuesday, 14 September, 1999, 14:53 GMT 15:53 UK
I'm a paranoid mother, admits Posh Spice
Victoria and Bethany
Victoria with former meningitis sufferer Bethany Hawkins, aged 4
Victoria Beckham has spoken of the "nightmare" of meningitis at the launch of a campaign to educate new mothers about the warning signs of the potentially deadly brain disease.

Speaking at the launch of Baby Watch, set up by the Meningitis Research Foundation, 24-year-old Victoria admitted she's "an absolutely paranoid mother".

The mother of six-month-old Brooklyn added: "This campaign is hugely important. As a new mother your child's health is your priority and Brooklyn's health is very important to me. It would be a nightmare if anything happened to him.

Posh and Becks
Posh and Becks: Meningitis Research Foundation patrons
"I am an absolutely paranoid mother. I want to check that Brooklyn is okay all the time - I can't help myself.

"He is teething at the moment and has a runny nose and meningitis is the first thing you think about."

The campaign aims to educate new mothers about the warning signs and symptoms of the brain disease - the single biggest killer of under-fives in the UK.

Victoria, who is patron of the Meningitis Research Foundation along with her husband, Manchester United star David Beckham, was happy to answer questions about her son.

Asked if she and husband David were getting a good night's sleep she laughed and said: "Brooklyn is awake all through the night every single night - that is why I have got bags under my eyes."

Thousands of deaths despite vaccinations
The Spice Girl is helping to promote the Baby Watch campaign. More than 20,000 information cards about spotting the signs of meningitis have been distributed to health visitors and GPs' surgeries.

Holding up one of the new information cards - Victoria said she would send one to the latest celebrities to become parents - Oasis singer Liam Gallagher and his actress wife Patsy Kensit, who gave birth to a son Lennon on Monday.

Cases of meningococcal disease in England and Wales rose from 1,362 in 1989 to 2,661 last year.

Denise Vaughan, director of the foundation said: "The government's forthcoming vaccination programme to immunise babies, children and young people against Group C of the disease will save many lives.

"However it is vital to remember that there is no vaccine against Group B meningitis and septicaemia which represents 75% of the disease in babies and very young children."

Victoria, who became involved in the foundation with her husband after having baby Brooklyn, said: "Babies can't tell you how they are feeling so you have to be able to recognise the symptoms."

She added: "When I was young - about seven - my parents thought that I had meningitis. That shows that it's hard to tell the difference between what could be a simple cold or meningitis.

"They were worried and that was obviously a great fear for my parents but I was okay."

The BBC's Daniel Sandford reports from the launch
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