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Last Updated: Monday, 17 January, 2005, 19:22 GMT
Inquest into baby 'forceps death'
A six-week old baby who was born with brain damage and disabilities after a forceps delivery had a 6 cm tear to his neck, an inquest has been told.

Alexander Clarke was born at Wordsley Hospital in Stourbridge on 11 February 2004 and immediately placed on a ventilator. He died six weeks later.

A doctor told Birmingham Coroners' Court she thought Alexander's injury was consistent with a forceps delivery.

The inquest which started on Monday is expected to last three days.

In distress

Alexander's mother Jennifer Clarke told the inquest on Monday that she was repeatedly denied a Caesarean section despite being told that her baby was in distress.

She gave birth more than three hours after going into labour

She said the consultant obstetrician, Eric Watson had told her a Caesarean was not necessary and that he would be performing a forceps delivery.

Alexander needed immediate resuscitation and was put on a ventilator because of breathing difficulties.

His parents were later informed that he may have suffered a lack of oxygen during his birth.

Spinal cord non-existent

Alexander was transferred on 17 March 2004 to Birmingham Children's Hospital, where he died eight days later.

An MRI scan showed he had suffered severe spinal cord damage in the neck on the base of the brain.

Fiona Reynolds, a consultant paediatrician at the hospital, told the inquest that she had never seen or read of such an injury.

She said: "It was decided that Alexander's quality of life would have been so awful that it was best to allow him to die naturally."

Dr Tamas Marton who carried out a post-mortem examination said he thought Alexander's death had been caused by "mechanical trauma of the cervical spine."

He said the spinal cord had collapsed in the area where the head joins the neck.

Dr Marton said he agreed with Dr Reynolds that the injury could have been caused by stretching, flexion, extension or rotation during birth and could not have occurred by itself.

Paediatric neurologist Dr Sunny Philip who examined Alexander at the Wordsley Hospital before his death also gave evidence at the inquest.

He also agreed that it was more than likely that the baby's spine could not have snapped by itself.

The inquest continues.

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