Judge's 'rare' ruling over unborn baby of mum with HIV after Kettering General Hospital's court bid

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A High Court judge said treatment could go ahead even if the mum objected

The unborn baby of an HIV-positive mum was at the centre of a rare High Court ruling after a legal application by Kettering General Hospital.

Bosses at the Rothwell Road hospital took action before the child’s birth because doctors feared the mum wouldn’t consent to them giving anti-retroviral medication.

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They went to court to secure the administration of the medication immediately upon birth even if she didn’t consent and then for a period of 28 days – saying that it was critical to the prospects of the treatment’s success that it commenced within four hours of the child being born.

London's Royal Courts of JusticeLondon's Royal Courts of Justice
London's Royal Courts of Justice

At a family court hearing Judge Mr Justice Hayden – who oversaw the high-profile Archie Battersbee case – ruled that the medication could be given within four hours of the baby’s birth and described the declaration as ‘exceptional’.

The mum was unaware that the legal action, which also involved North Northamptonshire Council, was taking place.

Mr Justice Hayden’s judgment has since been published online and it said the mum had complied with the anti-retroviral medication immediately prior to the birth.

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It added that the baby boy was doing well and that both parents had expressed ‘clear consent’ to a treatment regime.

Mr Justice Hayden said: “I hope that when they read this judgment, they will understand why the court has taken the course it has.

“I should also like to extend my congratulations to them on the birth of their son.”