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Cause of death. Interpretation needed please.

(45 Posts)
Maykid Thu 22-Aug-19 12:04:50

My 7 week old son died 35 years ago and I have some questions about the cause of his death.

The death certificate gave the following 3 causes..
1. Respiratory tract infection
2. Staphylococcal enterocolitis
3. Toxaemic shock

Am I correct in thinking that nowadays toxaemic shock would be called sepsis?

Also could the staphylococcal enterocolitis have been a secondary infection to the respiratory tract infection? I have struggled to understand how he got a bowel infection when everything was meticulously sterilised.

Thanks to any medical professional who can help me understand better.

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Maykid Thu 22-Aug-19 12:51:00

Any doctors around please?

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jomaIone Thu 22-Aug-19 13:01:28

I'm not a doctor but have some medical background

It is very difficult to say without knowing the full story.

Toxaemic shock is caused by staphylococcus bacteria and that leads to sepsis. Sepsis is an umbrella term for 'blood poisoning', basically a full systemic reaction to an infection.

My thoughts would be.. if your baby's respiratory infection was caused by a staph infection this could have been transferred through mucous to the bowel causing the enterocolitis which led to sepsis. Obviously that is my idea from basic knowledge but would seem to make sense.

I am so sorry for your loss. I hope you can find some peace.

Maykid Thu 22-Aug-19 13:17:24

Thank you Jomalone . That’s what I wondered, whether the mucous from the respiratory tract infection could have transferred the infection to the bowel.

There is no full story really. We found him blue and limp in his cot, not breathing. We gave cpr , badly I think. Ambulance carried on cpr and on arrival at hospital he was taken away and I think shocked. He was then put on life support but several hours later we were told there was no hope of recovery. The machines were turned off and he died a couple of hours later.

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Maykid Thu 22-Aug-19 13:19:38

Where does staphylococcus come from? Is that a silly question?

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jomaIone Thu 22-Aug-19 13:22:24

That's awful, I am so so sorry. Was he showing signs of being unwell before that? Unfortunately newborns are so susceptible to infection. It is an absolute tragedy.

jomaIone Thu 22-Aug-19 13:25:27

Not at all, staph is a bacteria that lives on most healthy people's skin and inside the nose. So if for some reason the bacteria invade deeper into the body then this causes the infection.

There is also a possibility that the enterocolitis was the main infection and he aspirated some vomit which cause the pneumonia. It's very hard to say. Was there an inquiry at the time?

Maykid Thu 22-Aug-19 13:26:39

He had a cold which we were aware of as he was snuffly and had taken him to see the gp a week prior to his death. He was prescribed nose drops to clear his congestion. Other than that fine in himself and drinking normal amounts of milk.
I’ve never really got over it and feel it is the cause of the chronic fatigue I have suffered ever since.

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Maykid Thu 22-Aug-19 13:28:21

No inquiry, only post mortem.
We were questioned by the police as is routine I guess to establish the facts.

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Maykid Thu 22-Aug-19 13:30:12

Thank you for responding, Jomalone. No one has ever talked it through with me.

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BridgetJonesScarf Thu 22-Aug-19 13:40:18

Maykid Have you ever had any counseling or help at all to come to terms with your sad loss? My heart breaks for you in your last post to Jomalone. I had a traumatic experience when I was a lot younger, not the same as yours, but I have never had the chance to discuss it with anyone who could offer knowledge and perspective, and I think if I had, it would have made such a difference.

flowers for you. I am very sorry for your loss

lilmishap Thu 22-Aug-19 13:42:20

To answer the sterilisation reference Staph can be found everywhere pretty much, it can be on skin/noses/throats of seemingly healthy people, so kisses, sneezes from those people might pass it on, it travels throughout the entire body and can even be found in the amniotic fluid during pregnancy.
I know this because I contracted what felt like a minor Staph infection at 30 weeks pregnant which led to a chain of events resulting in a late miscarriage that had to be removed via Csection due to Sepsis. I got a little obsessed with wanting to 'blame' myself for not preventing it I think. You can't fight an infection you can't always see signs of is what I found.

I'm so sorry for your loss, I hope you can find some peace xx

jomaIone Thu 22-Aug-19 13:42:43

No problem. It's an absolutely awful thing to have been through and sounds just a terrible event that couldn't have been prevented.

Maykid Thu 22-Aug-19 13:45:34

Thank you, Bridget and Lilmishap.
No counselling.

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Maykid Thu 22-Aug-19 13:46:50

I’m sorry for the traumatic experiences of both of you.

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SayOohLaLa Thu 22-Aug-19 13:49:54

OP. if you got air into your baby boy, you did CPR for him. There is no bad CPR in that respect - You gave him more of a chance than he'd have had if you hadn't done CPR, hence why the ambulance staff could take over from you and they were able to do defib in hospital.

I can only imagine how painful this has been for you, but please don't think you could have helped him bettter in how you did the first aid.

Maykid Thu 22-Aug-19 13:53:52

Thanks, SayOohLaLa.

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Claireshh Thu 22-Aug-19 14:53:07

Maykid you were a wonderful mother to your son. In his seven weeks with you I have no doubt he knew how much he was loved. When he was poorly you took him to the doctors and you also gave CPR. You couldn’t have done more. I’m so sorry for the death of your son. It’s just so very sad and unfair. What was his name?

My son became unwell with sepsis and respiratory distress 24 hours after he was born. We were still in hospital as he was born by a c-section. He was feeding, seeing and pooing. The only thing he was doing that seemed odd was making little grunty noises. A midwife told me he was fine. Four hours later when we were checked again all hell broke loose and he was rushed to special care. If we had been at home I would not have been concerned by him. You did the very best for your boy. Sending you love. Xxx

Maykid Thu 22-Aug-19 15:39:04

Hi Claire,
I’m sorry to hear of your experience, it must have been terrifying. Thank goodness your little one survived I presume?
My son was called Stephen.
I did go on to have another son after him which was a blessing. It took me a couple of years to pluck up the courage to try for another baby. I’m so glad I did.

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Claireshh Thu 22-Aug-19 16:00:45

Nothing could have taken away the pain of losing Stephen but I am glad you went on to have another child.

Yes, my son did survive. Very kind of you to ask.

If you do ever think about counselling I can highly recommend it. I had some sessions and the difference it made was incredible. It was to help after a number of bereavements. It was life changing. Xxx

Babdoc Thu 22-Aug-19 16:15:09

OP, I am so sorry you have carried this pain for 35 years.
In those days there was often scant regard given to psychological support for bereaved parents, and you were obviously just given the diagnosis and death certificate and left to pick up the pieces on your own.
I think it could be of benefit to you, even at this late stage, to have some counselling.
I think you need reassurance that you did all the right things, you were not negligent, you were in no way to blame for what happened. You seem to have carried this fear that you didn’t do the CPR properly, for example.
May I say as a doctor, that, in the face of overwhelming staphylococcal sepsis, CPR even performed by professionals is unlikely to be successful. You did incredibly well to give your baby what little chance he had, by preserving a shockable rhythm.
You were a good mum to your wee boy. You have nothing to blame yourself for. And it is way past time for you to be kind to yourself and lay your burden of grief down. Please seek some support to do this.
God bless.

WillaDaPeephole Thu 22-Aug-19 16:58:11

OP, I look after babies like Stephen, and even with a whole team of people and all the equipment that an ITU has, we still struggle to save babies who have an overwhelming infection such as your boy seems to have had. Once these bugs take hold they can spread so quickly and I’ve seen babies go from looking a bit unwell to full cardiac arrest in under 6 hours. When an infection is overwhelming like this, you find the bacteria everywhere- brain, lungs, bowel, kidneys- and it is sometimes difficult to know where it started. Certainly sometimes these things seem to piggyback on a minor cold, possibly something that distracts the immune system and disrupts the normal barriers in the nose that stop bacteria from crossing into the bloodstream. Because the infection moves so fast, sometimes it doesn’t matter where it starts, you just have to treat it where you find it. Even then we are not always successful.

I’ve done CPR on lots of babies- sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, not because it was done badly, but because some babies are too sick to respond. It sounds as if you gave Stephen every chance you could have done- the infection was just too quick and too severe. I’m so sorry you lost him.

Maykid Thu 22-Aug-19 17:00:01

Babdoc and all the others, I am grateful to have had some kind people to talk to today. I feel as if I have had a counselling session with you all. Xx

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purplebutterfly90 Thu 22-Aug-19 17:13:05

@Maykid Sending thanks and hugs your way. I'm so incredibly sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing your Stephan's journey with us💙

purplebutterfly90 Thu 22-Aug-19 17:13:53

* Stephen x

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