Mother Wins Important Victory in ‘Wrongful Birth’ Case

In a highly unusual ‘wrongful birth’ case, a mother whose daughter was delivered gravely disabled following negligent failures to pick up warning signs during ante-natal scans had her hopes of winning compensation boosted.

The mother was devoted to her eight-year-old daughter but argued that, had she learnt the truth about her condition in time, she would have opted to terminate the pregnancy. In the event, the girl was born microcephalic – with a very small head – and would require constant care throughout her life.

The woman underwent a total of 10 ultrasound scans during her pregnancy but her baby’s condition remained undetected. The High Court found that the results of two of those scans – during the 31st and 36th weeks of gestation – had been negligently analysed. No reasonable clinician presented with those results would have failed to appreciate the risk that the foetus was suffering from microcephaly and the care given to the expectant mother thus reflected inappropriately low clinical standards.

The Court’s ruling greatly improved the mother’s prospects of winning sufficient compensation to pay for her daughter’s lifelong care. However, it remained necessary for her to establish that she would in fact have elected for a termination had she been alerted to her daughter’s condition during her pregnancy.

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