Parents suffer severe depression after death of baby son at birth | Fieldfisher
Skip to main content
Case Study

Parents suffer severe depression after death of baby son at birth

Gayle fell pregnant for the first time in February 1995. Her due date was 19 November 1995.

She had an uncomplicated pregnancy and on 24 November 1995 was admitted to hospital in established labour.

At 5am a CTG trace was commenced to monitor the baby's heart rate. The midwife was immediately concerned that the fetal heart rate was too fast. A doctor was asked to attend, but did not.

The CTG continued to show signs of fetal distress. At about 7.40am the fetal heart rate slowed down and then stopped. An ultrasound scan confirmed that the baby had died in utero. 

Gayle's stillborn son, was delivered by way of ventouse extraction. A post mortem examination confirmed that the cause of death was intra-uterine hypoxia. This is when the baby is deprived of oxygen in the womb or birth canal.

The consultant obstetrician later wrote in the labour notes that “the CTG at 5.40am is clearly abnormal with tachycardia and late decelerations”. 

The consultant obstetrician later advised Gayle and her husband Matthew that if he had seen the CTG trace, he would have performed an emergency Caesarean section immediately. He said that if this had happened straight away “there probably would have been a better outcome”. 

Gayle and her husband Matthew consulted us in April 1999, four months after the primary limitation period had expired.

Protective proceedings were issued on 20 April 1999. You usually have 3 years to issue a claim in medical negligence, but we felt that psychiatric injuries were the reason behind the delay in making a claim.

Both Gayle and Matthew were examined by a psychiatrist. Following the death of her son, Gayle had become severely emotionally disturbed and depressed and this continued for a period of approximately 18 months.

However, by the time of examination she was no longer depressed and had been able to return to work.

In July 1999, Matthew was admitted to hospital with a serious depressive breakdown following an overdose. 

On examination by the psychiatrist, it was found that his depression had started following the death of his son.

After that time, Matthew had never fully recovered and he continued to have a clear depressive illness. With the correct medication and counselling, it was expected that he would make a recovery provided that difficulties at work were resolved. 

Following negotiations with the defendant’s solicitors, Gayle and Matthew's claim was settled for £37,500.

Contact us

For further information about birth injury claims and medical negligence claims, please call Paul McNeil on 03304606804 or email


All enquiries are completely free of charge and we will investigate all funding options for you including no win, no fee.