Grieving mother warns pregnant women on dangers of 'slapped cheek syndrome' after losing baby at two-days-old
Simone Richardson contracted viral infection while pregnantCondition is common among children but dangerous for unborn infantsSymptoms include rash that can cause swelling and reddening of the face
Daughter Coco died from severe anaemia two days after birth
11:23 GMT, 27 September 2012
A beauty stylist who caught a virus whilst pregnant has made an emotional plea to other expectant mothers to watch out for symptoms of the disease.
Simone Richardson, 25, lost her daughter Coco when she was just two-days-old after contracting 'slapped cheek syndrome.'
The infection, caused by parvovirus B19, gets its nickname because sufferers have a rash or reddening to the face.
Our daughter: Simone with her partner Oliver Espley and a picture of Coco, who died after Simone contracted 'slapped-cheek syndrome'
Ms Richardson has now released pictures of her badly swollen child battling for life in hospital to make other women more aware of the condition.
The mother from Rhyl, North Wales, developed the symptoms of the virus at
20 weeks. She was initially told by her midwife she was having a 'rough
She said: 'I kept throwing up and my skin would
go really red. In the middle of the night I would be hanging my head out
of the window because I was so hot and couldn’t catch my breath and I
would feel really dizzy.
'I had a sharp pain in my tummy and I
had not been measured on my stomach and people were saying that I was
massive and looked ready to drop. The following week my legs blew up.'
She was later referred to Liverpool Women’s Hospital when she
said her unborn baby was not moving.
'I was given two blood transfusions in
my womb and sent home after five days but then within two days my waters
broke when I got up in the morning,' the mother said.
Comforting: Coco with parents Simone and Oliver. Sadly the baby girl died at just two-days-old. Her parents switched off life-support after they were told she had a one per cent chance of survival
This family collect of Coco in her incubator shows how the virus caused her to swell up
Coco was born prematurely at 28 weeks by emergency C-section and taken straight to the Special Care Baby Unit.
Simone said: 'I could tell Oli was
terrified. I could see it in his face. I remember lying there completely
out of it and he was shouting at me to stay awake.
Simone pregnant with Coco before she discovered she had contracted the Parvovirus
'It wasn’t just the baby that he may
have lost – it was me too. I didn’t get to see her at all because they
were stitching me up.
'She went to the special care and after that they told me that it was the Parvovirus.
'When I finally got to see Coco she was
like a baby Budda – she had no neck and she was so swollen from the
fluid. They had put her in an incubator which helped to deflate the
water from her.'
The couple decided to get her christened
when she was one day old, but the next day the couple were advised to
turn off her life support machine.
Today Simone who lives with partner Oliver Espley, 30, a hairdresser said: 'Oli and I were devastated. We just
wanted her to be healthy and happy but she looked like she was suffering
so badly, and that’s the most awful thing for a mum to see in their
'Doctors said that she only had a one per cent chance of survival. It was just the machines that were keeping her alive.
'In the end I felt relief for Coco but it
was so hard to watch her slip away. I didn’t realise till that moment
the machine was switched off that she had been in so much pain.
'I felt instant love when I saw her but
holding her was the most awful and amazing feeling at the same time. On
the one hand she was in my arms and finally looked happy after two days
of pain, but on the other I lost my beautiful baby daughter.
'I was so upset reliving that day over
and over in my head, but I feel as if I need to put my energy into
something and warn other parents to be vigilant about the virus.
COMMON CHILDHOOD COMPLAINT CAN BE DEADLY FOR UNBORN BABIES
Slapped cheek syndrome is a type of viral infection that is most
common in children, although it can affect anyone of any age. It is
caused by a virus called parvovirus B19 and the most
common symptom is the appearance of a distinctive bright red rash on the
cheeks. Other symptoms can include painful joints and swollen limbs.
Pregnant women who have not had the infection before have an increased
risk of a miscarriage. In one in three cases the mother passes the virus
on to the unborn child, which can then cause severe anaemia. This in turn can cause heart failure and an abnormal collection of fluid inside the baby’s tissues.
Due to this risk, mothers with the virus are given regular ultrasound
scans so that the health of the baby can be carefully assessed. If
they do show signs of severe anaemia, they may be treated with a
The risk of miscarriage is highest in the first 20 weeks of pregnancy, at around 1 in 10, but then drops sharply as the pregnancy
'I would urge pregnant women who have the symptoms to get themselves checked out straight away before it’s too late – if I’d have known, I would have gone a lot sooner.'
Parvovirus B19 is a common childhood
viral illness with about half of all adults infected when they were
children. They may may develop a rash, joint pain or swelling and other symptoms can include headaches, a mild fever or sore throat.
Devastated: Simone and Oliver with daughter Coco's memory box
A baby scan of Coco: Simone had two blood transfusions to the womb but it was not enough to save her daughter's life
However, Parvovirus B19 infection in a
pregnant women can cause the unborn baby to have severe anaemia and the
woman may have a miscarriage.
Ms Richardson said: 'Because I’d never had Parvovirus in childhood, my body didn’t have the antibodies to fight it off and protect the baby and she became anaemic, her kidneys stopped working and her heart had also swelled.
'I still don’t know how or where I contracted Parvovirus but people can have it and not even know.
'Not enough people are even aware of it at all but I want to stop it taking the lives of any more babies like Coco.'