Sarah and James de Malpaquet could not have imagined the tragedy that would befall them when their first son Kit was born in September 2017. He was full term and Sarah’s pregnancy had no complications.
But doctors discovered he had low blood sugar shortly after the two. He was taken to a special neonatal care unit.
This is where his mother Sarah thinks Kit caught the common cold sore virus. and it is this virus that will end its short life just 13 days later.
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Now Sarah and James want more people to be aware of the risks to new babies from the very common virus. In particular, they want health professionals to know more.
Mum Sarah, 40, told MyLondon: ‘He was in care for a few days and for most of his time there he was incredibly sleepy, not waking up for feedings and not responding to the pain, even when his cannulas were inserted and when his small heels were pricked several times for blood tests.
Sarah and James were told Kit was just a sleeping baby and they shouldn’t worry too much. However, after being discharged they were back in hospital with Kit on the ninth day after he failed to wake up and struggled to eat – Kit was admitted to a children’s hospital where staff immediately recognized that something was seriously wrong.
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Kit was filled with antibiotics as medical staff suspected he was suffering from a bacterial infection, rather than a viral infection as was the reality. “Over the next few days, Kit got a little better and then a lot worse day by day,” Sarah said. “On day 12 he was rushed by ambulance to intensive care at Evelina London Children’s Hospital.
“There they did everything to save him, but it was too late and he died early the next morning. Standing helpless while a doctor performed CPR on our baby’s swollen, bleeding little body is a memory that will haunt us forever.
Malplaquet’s Kit died aged just 13 days (Image: Sarah Malplaquet)
“People say losing a baby is the worst thing you can go through – that’s how we went through it,” Sarah said. “When they told us it was HSV we were in shock. It wasn’t on my radar at all, I had never had a cold sore before, I had never had a genital herpes.
Neonatal herpes is a rare but life-threatening condition caused by the herpes virus, which usually occurs within the first four weeks of a baby’s life. In the latest published study from 2013 based in Nottingham, it is estimated that one baby dies every week in the UK from neonatal herpes.
Baby Kit died on September 29, 2017, when he was just 13 days old. The day after he died, they were told by a blood test that he had HSV1, also known as the herpes virus which causes the common cold sore.
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Herpes simplex virus (HSV) is an extremely common virus that causes cold sores and genital infections. According to the British Association for Sexual Health and HIV, 70% of the UK population is infected with herpes before the age of 25.
Research has shown that most people with herpes have no idea about it and will never show symptoms. Sarah thinks the unnecessary stigma and shame around the herpes virus has contributed to a lack of understanding of how the virus can affect babies.
James de Malplaquet and his son Kit (Image: Sarah Malplaquet)
Most babies born to mothers infected with the herpes simplex virus are completely healthy, but a baby is most at risk of contracting the virus if the mother’s very first herpes infection occurs during the third trimester of pregnancy. pregnancy, or if he gets herpes as a newborn. In other words, pregnant women who have had cold sores or genital herpes in the past are less likely to pass it on to their baby than someone who experiences their first outbreak late in pregnancy. This is because previous exposure to the virus means you pass antibodies on to your baby.
When a newborn baby gets herpes, they can get very sick very quickly. If they don’t get antivirals, they will almost always die. In 90% of cases, the virus is transmitted to the baby during delivery from the mother to the baby through the birth canal.
In Kit’s case, a blood test showed no trace of HSV in Sarah, and dad James hadn’t had a cold sore in about five years. Sarah and James have no way of knowing exactly how and where Kit contracted the virus, though they believe it was likely passed to her at some point in the hospital.
Sarah, James and their son Red and a photo of Kit (Image: Sarah Malplaquet)
Kit was not tested for a viral infection when he was sick, so he was not given any antiviral medication and therefore stood no chance against such a devastating infection. In the end, HSV1 spread throughout his body and overwhelmed him.
In the months following Kit’s death, Sarah set out to learn as much as she could about this virus. She was surprised by the lack of awareness among the general public and, most worryingly, the huge gaps in knowledge of symptoms and best practice in the UK medical profession.
Sarah believed Kit’s death was preventable and that lack of knowledge about transmission, recognition and treatment of the virus led to his tragic and untimely death. In 2018, Sarah founded the Kit Tarka Foundation, which has since worked to improve research and education around neonatal herpes to prevent newborn deaths.
The Kit Tarka Foundation’s Go Orange campaign runs from April 18-24 (Image: Sarah Malplaquet)
They also run a number of campaigns, including their THANK YOU campaign, which encourages people to think about hands and not kiss when meeting a newborn baby to avoid transmitting viruses like herpes. Sarah and James now live with their three-year-old son, Red, in Brighton, Sussex, and have kept Kit’s memory alive every day through the work done at the Kit Tarka Foundation.
Sarah said: “It will be wonderful to see our supporters across the country and around the world come together in glorious orange in the week of April 18. We can’t wait to see your pictures!
For more information on the Kit Tarka Foundation and neonatal herpes, click here
From April 18 to 24, they will host their GoOrange! fundraising and awareness campaign. To get involved, simply wear, hold or do something involving the color orange and share photos on social media using the hashtags #GoOrangeForKit and #NeonatalHerpesAwareness, and tagging @KitTarka. You can click here to register for a GoOrange! pack.
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This notice was published: 2022-04-01 16:09:35