Mum tells of anguish over care for baby’s one-in-40,000 condition

Alana in London with her children Josh, Morgan and baby Brooke
Alana in London with her children Josh, Morgan and baby Brooke

A worried mother is calling for better awareness after she had to repeatedly tell hospital staff something serious was wrong with her baby, Brooke.

Alana Spendlove, 36, said she and her partner Andrew had not yet taken their three-day-old daughter home from Worthing Hospital when she started screaming and having seizures: “It looked almost like she was not with us.”

If we hadn’t made a fuss, our daughter may not be with us today

Alana Spendlove

Salvington childminder Alana said she called staff to check Brooke five times before they saw something was wrong and rushed her to intensive care.

She said: “I felt like I was being an obsessive mum. They said she seems fine. It happened again and I was in tears – I said something’s not right.”

Alana said it was after the fifth time she got staff to check on Brooke that things changed and she was taken to intensive care with dangerously low blood sugar.

“It was shocking, you do not expect to have a baby and then for all that to happen.”

She was sent to St Richard’s and Southampton General hospitals, where she also battled meningitis, but is now at Great Ormond Street Hospital.

There, doctors diagnosed Brooke with hyperinsulinism, a one-in-40,000 condition where her pancreas releases too much insulin, lowering her blood sugar dramatically.

Brooke, now three months old, will stay there until she is stable enough to go home.

Alana added: “If we hadn’t made a fuss, our daughter may not be with us today.

“Parents need to know to get your child’s blood tested.”

Denise Matthams, Head of Nursing for Women and Children service at Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “While we cannot comment on the specific case, we do recognise that this has been a difficult time for the family and our thoughts are with Alana and her baby Brooke.

“We have clear policies for managing low blood sugars in infants, which is a common problem that staff regularly manage.

“However, hyperinsulinism is a rare condition, but one of the many potential causes we consider when low blood sugars persist and do not respond to treatment.

“In more challenging cases we work closely with our colleagues in tertiary centres, who provide more specific and specialist advice, in line with the networked approach to neonatal care in the UK.”