Page last updated at 15:55 GMT, Friday, 27 February 2009

Grieving mother's herpes warning

Jennifer Schofield
Baby Jennifer died after contracting the Herpes virus from her mother Ruth

The mother of a baby who died after contracting herpes from her cold sores is campaigning for more awareness of how dangerous it can be to newborns.

Jennifer Schofield was 11 days old when her organs failed after contracting the Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV), through either kisses or breastfeeding.

Ruth Schofield, 35, of Lancaster, wants to warn mothers about the disease, which kills about six babies a year.

A coroner recorded a narrative verdict into her death on Thursday.

The inquest in Lancaster heard that Jennifer died in November 2006 from the type of HSV usually passed on through a cold sore.

Miss Schofield probably caught HSV in the late stages of her pregnancy after she developed flu-like symptoms days before giving birth, the inquest heard.


She developed mouth ulcers after Jennifer was born and was given a mouthwash by her GP, but HSV was not diagnosed.

It was then that Jennifer also became unwell and was admitted to hospital with a temperature, Miss Schofield said in an interview with BBC Radio 5 Live.

"She was continually sleeping and was terribly lethargic," she said.

But 11 days after Jennifer's birth Miss Schofield was told her baby was going to die.

"The doctors sat me down and they said, 'I'm really sorry but she can't fight anymore. Do you want to hold her and watch her die?'

It broke my heart to know what she died of - how could this happen?
Ruth Schofield

"The hardest thing any woman can do is watch her baby die."

It was only at the post-mortem examination that doctors discovered the baby had died of HSV.

"She should be here today. It's such a treatable disease. I didn't know what I had," Miss Schofield said.

"It broke my heart to know what she died of - how could this happen?

"For the grieving process it was very hard to accept... It took me a very long time to accept I wasn't to blame."

Miss Schofield has written to the prime minister asking for more literature to be put in clinics about the illness.


Baby Jennifer Schofield died in November 2006

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