WHEN babies are born they are entitled to a range of routine health checks and tests in the first six weeks including a blood test taken from the baby’s heel.
Most newborns are healthy and won't have any of the conditions or problems the screening tests are looking for. But for those that do, the benefits of early screening can be enormous.
When Amelia Wilkinson’s test results detected congenital hypothyroidism, a rare condition that can lead to impaired growth and mental development, the fight was on for her family and staff at Redditch’s Alexandra Hospital to ensure she got the best possible treatment in order to lead a normal life.
Her mum Bev Wilkinson, from Redditch, said: “I remember the midwife telling us not to worry because these conditions are so rare.
“We thought nothing more about it but when the phone rang days later and Dr Tom Dawson asked us to come into the children's clinic immediately to discuss Amelia's results, the fear we felt was incredible.
“We were told Amelia had been detected with congenital hypothyroidism which was very severe in babies if not detected and treated early enough and could cause brain damage and development issues.”
Second test results revealed the same condition and Amelia’s family were called back to the hospital straight away so Amelia’s treatment could begin.
Her mum continued: “When we arrived at the children's ward, they were amazing, they had a room ready for us with all the equipment needed. We were petrified and so upset, the staff were so comforting to us and gave the best support we could have received.
“I sat up all night watching my precious baby, wondering if she was going to be ok, staff sat with me and got me through a night I will never forget.”
An iodine dye test confirmed Amelia had no thyroid tissue present at all, a condition which less than 1 in 3,500 UK children are born with.
Medication started straight away and Amelia had blood tests every 12 hours. Over a period of a two weeks Amelia was in and out of the hospital for treatment as her levels of jaundiced peaked and dropped.
Mrs Wilkinson added: “During the first four terrifying months of Amelia's life Dr Dawson was outstanding. He gave my husband and I the best support we could have asked for, he was on the end of an email or telephone whenever we had worries. I don't think we would have coped as well as we did without him being Amelia's paediatrician.
“At eight months old Amelia is now on regular blood tests, done by the wonderful Marie in the children's clinic, and medication and things are starting to settle.
“Without the children's clinic being so quick in treating Amelia we might not have the very happy little girl who is developing correctly and reaching all her milestones.
“Amelia will continue to need care for the rest of her life and with the continued care and support of the children's clinic we are reassured she will be fine and her needs will be met.”
Dr Tom Dawson, consultant paediatrician said: “Thanks to the routine screening of newborns we are now able to provide prompt investigations and treatment for these conditions.
“Congenital hypothyroidism rarely occurs in Redditch, we see approximately one case every two years.”