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Tragic baby deaths avoidable?

Moms insist that gut feelings could have saved the lives of their kids.

sick baby

Image: via Shutterstock

Three grieving moms have put their energy into starting the charity Mother’s Instinct, an organisation aimed at highlighting the importance of a mother’s gut feelings when diagnosing a sick child, reinforcing the theory that “moms know best”. Each of the three moms has lost a child due to what they’re calling substandard treatment, misdiagnosis or fragmented care, according to the Daily Mail. They may not be wrong in their conclusions, either- research has indicated that maternal instinct is a vital part of diagnosis and care of sick children.

Bad medicine?

Mothers Odette Mould, Lucy Connolly and Joanna Hughes established the charity Mother’s Instinct which supports parents in getting their voices heard after their own children died. Typical complaints from parents are that:

  • Medical professionals sometimes see a frantically worried parent as needlessly hysterical.
  • Desperately ill children are being discharged from hospitals despite parents saying that there is something still very wrong.
  • Medical professionals aren’t listening to parents when they say their kids’ appearance is wrong, or that they’re deteriorating
  • Despite parents insisting that children are terribly sick, they may be left to wait for care, by which time they are critically ill, or it is too late to treat an illness which may have been treated if caught earlier.

While some doctors have been found culpable of misconduct in the handling of certain cases, there are also illnesses which can have devastating effects and are difficult to trace. A grieving parent will naturally question whether or not more could have been done to save a child.

What is 'instinct'?

The article quotes a GP who conducted a study on parent’s instincts for The Lancet medical journal who suggests that ‘instinct’ is in fact a combination of natural protection of a child together with a recognition of the child’s character and history, and that when a GP asks about the parent about the child, the parent’s comments could carry a lot of weight, as if the parent has serious concerns, this should ‘raise alarm bells’.

According to the Telegraph, "The advice, published in The Lancet medical journal, says doctors should also trust their own gut feeling when trying to identify between a child with a serious infection and those with just a cold or cough."

Suggests one of the researchers of the study, Dr. Matthew Thompson: "We should usually trust parents' instincts. After all, they will have nursed their child through many minor illnesses before and often can tell when something is different.”

So if the parent insists, based on their experience, that their child is unusually ill, this could help doctors to check for serious illnesses such as meningitis, for example.

What do you think? Does “mom know best”?
By: Scott Dunlop

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