Concern as Brown baby goes for tests

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Indy Politics

Gordon Brown and his wife, Sarah, were keeping a vigil last night at the bedside of their baby, Jennifer Jane, who was transferred to one of Scotland's top maternity hospitals for tests and treatment after ultrasound examinations showed "cause for concern".

The baby was transferred by ambulance from the Forth Park hospital, Kirkaldy, where she had been expected to stay for another six weeks, to Simpson's Memorial Maternity Hospital in Edinburgh.

One of Scotland's leading midwives, Margaret McGuire, said it was unusual to transfer babies but the neo-natal unit at Simpson's was fully equipped to deal with delicate operations if necessary.

"There may be a transfer if they are anticipating problems which could need a surgical intervention or extra support," she said. "It was born a bit small but 33 weeks is not drastically premature. If there has been an ultrasound test, they will be looking at something internal, whether it is renal, chest or heart. It is a case of watch this space and let's

hope there is no chest or heart problem. All we can do is say our wishes are with the Brown family."

The baby was seven weeks premature and weighed only 2lb 4oz (1kg) when she was born by emergency caesarean section on 29 December.

The decision to transfer the baby was taken by doctors after Mr Brown and his wife, Sarah, looking tired, left her on Friday in the neo-natal unit at the Forth Park.

At that time, the Forth Park hospital said Jennifer Jane had gained weight since the birth. "The baby is tolerating small amounts of food, has no signs of jaundice and is breathing independently," said a hospital spokesman.

Before thanking staff as he left, Mr Brown said the baby was making progress and getting stronger every day.

The chancellor was visibly elated at becoming a father for the first time at 50 years of age. Describing his daughter as "the most beautiful in the world", the normally dour Mr Brown said: "Politics seems less important today."

He took immediate paternity leave and has been staying in Scotland with Sarah to be close to their daughter. Doctors decided to carry out a caesarean when they became concerned at the failure of the baby to gain weight.

Ultrasound scans after 12 and 20 weeks revealed no problems, but it was discovered two days before the operation that a lack of amniotic fluid surrounding the baby was depriving her of nutrients and inhibiting growth.

Tahir Mahmood, the consultant obstetrician who delivered the baby, said: "If nature had been allowed to take its course, these factors would have increased the risk of the baby dying in the uterus."

Before news of the transfer, Mr Brown was said to be planning to return to work, possibly by the end of this week, or early next week. However, that may now depend on the progress of his daughter. He is planning more leave when the baby goes home.

While the concern over their baby will take priority, Mr Brown has a busy agenda which includes the spring Budget, a review of public spending and the assessment of the case for euro entry.

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