Doctors kept girl of 14's stillborn baby a secret from her family

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The Independent Online
The doctors of a girl of 14 who secretly gave birth to a stillborn baby did not tell her parents because of patient confidentiality rules, it emerged yesterday.

The teenager, who had concealed her pregnancy, hid the boy's body in a black bin liner before telling her mother she needed medical attention for internal bleeding. She was taken to Ipswich Hospital where she had minor surgery and was kept in overnight, an inquest into the baby's death heard.

After the hearing, Ian Scott, medical director of the Ipswich Hospital NHS Trust, said the birth was a "confidence between the girl and her doctor". He confirmed that doctors who treated her suspected she had just delivered a baby. "There is a bond of trust between a patient and his or her doctor. There are very few cases except in a court of law where we would be obliged to give information," he said.

Instead, the teenager, was allowed to return home in Ipswich where she retrieved the body and threw it in the River Gipping. Her parents did not find out until three weeks later when a 14-year-old boy playing in a backwater of the canal found the body still in the plastic bag.

Police later spoke to the girl after getting a tip-off that she was the mother following local publicity about a baby's body being found. Detective Inspector Neville Farthing, who led the police investigation, read out a statement by the girl in which she said she became pregnant in October or November last year.

The statement said: "I didn't tell anybody that I was pregnant. I cannot be exact about the date. In early May I fell down the stairs and after that I had stomach pains. Overnight on May 15 and 16, the pains got worse. I self-delivered the baby in my bedroom. The rest of the family were downstairs.

"The baby didn't move or cry out. It came out feet first. I helped it by pulling it a little bit. I placed the baby still with its cord into a plastic bag and hid it in the bedroom ... On May 20, I took the baby from the bedroom and placed it in the River Gipping by the Yarmouth Road bridge."

Home Office pathologist Dr David Harrison who was carried out a post- mortem examination on the baby was unable to determine the cause of death as the body was so badly decomposed.

Ipswich Coroner Nowell Watkins described the case as "a fairly ghastly human tragedy" and recorded a verdict that the baby was stillborn.