New mum, 30, dies after ear infection
BREASTFEEDING MOTHER REFUSED ANTIBIOTICS OVER FEARS FOR BABY
A BREASTFEEDING mother was struck down by severe earache died just days after she refused to take antibiotics for fear they might harm her three-month-old baby.
College lecturer Rhianne StatomBarnett, 30, had been breastfeeding son George and feared prescriptiononly medication might have adverse effects on him though the transfer of baby milk.
Just two days after a consultation with her GP in which she turned down his recommendation for a course of antibiotics, Miss Statom-Barnett, from Wilmslow, was found unconscious at her mother’s home with her son crying beside her.
She was rushed to hospital but doctors discovered she had developed the rare ear infection mastoiditis, which quickly progressed to meningitis. She died shortly afterwards in Wythenshawe Hospital. An inquest in Manchester heard Miss Statom-Barnett, who worked as an English lecturer, had given birth to George in December 2015 with partner Ross Norman. She began to complain of having ear problems the following March. Her mother, Beverly, 55, a nurse, told the hearing: “I got a text from her on March 27 saying she was feeling unwell. She had earache and a headache and sent Ross out to get some Paracetamol. “We went to see her on March 30 and she was very ill. We booked an appointment with our GP the next morning. “She said she had a severe headache and her ear was hurting a lot. She said it was worse than labour pains. The next day she went for her appointment and they said it was a Dr Leena Joseph, pathologist viral infection. At around 5am on Saturday, April 2, George woke me up crying. When I went into her room I found her in a quite unconscious state. She had vomited and when I called out her name she didn’t respond and we called an ambulance.
“At hospital the senior doctor came out and told us that Rhianne was effectively brain dead. It was heartbreaking.”
Mr Norman told the hearing: ‘She drove back with her parents on March 30 and I remember seeing gunk in her ear. I knew it was serious. We were told that it was an extreme meningitis infection that had taken hold.”
Miss Statom-Barnett’s GP, Dr Matthew Jones, said: “She had a fourday history of ear pain and upon examination I saw her ear drum had burst. She had no fevers so there was no evidence of mastoiditis at the time.
“I did suggest antibiotics but Rhianne refused and explained she did not want this to affect her while she was breastfeeding. I told her that if her condition worsened then she should come back immediately or go to the accident and emergency department. Four in 10,000 people can be affected by mastoiditis, so this is incredibly rare.”
Pathologist Dr Leena Joseph said: “When you are pregnant your blood is more easy to clot and when you are post-pregnancy you are more vulnerable and susceptible to infection.
“This was ill luck and is a very rare complication.
“This developed rather dramatically and nothing more could have been done. It would have been very hard to stop.”
Assistant Coroner John Pollard recorded a conclusion of natural causes and said: “I know that Rhianne was a fit young woman with a baby and had a particularly active lifestyle.
“Her death was sudden and very quick and must have been a massive shock to family and close friends. Sadly some things happen and nothing can be done.
“The evidence in this case shows that the doctors and neurological surgeons did everything they could, but unfortunately there was not a lot they could do.”