Baby in care diagnosed with hepatitis C, court hears
Infant girl born to mother addicted to drugs was taken into care at birth
Judge Brendan Toale: said he was satisfied the interim care order for the baby should continue for another 28 days. Photograph: Collins/Courts
A baby in care, who was born to a mother addicted to drugs, has been diagnosed with hepatitis C, a Dublin District Family Court has heard. The baby was taken into care at birth earlier this year and has been looked after by a foster family since then.
As part of an application into extending an interim care order for the girl, Judge Brendan Toale was told that in July, the infant was taken off phenobarbital, a drug given to babies born addicted to barbiturates because their mothers used drugs during pregnancy. She was subsequently diagnosed with hepatitis C, a blood-borne virus which affects the liver and can be passed from mother to baby.
A social worker told the court yesterday the baby also had joint problems and would need surgery in a couple of years, but she was meeting all her other developmental milestones. She had also met her older siblings, who were delighted with their new sister.
The child required a high level of care, with weekly medical appointments at hospital and with a physiotherapist. The parents, who were homeless and chronic drug users, would not be capable of providing that care, the social worker said. She said she had a “difficult” meeting with them last month about planning for the future; the couple refused to continue without their solicitors.
Neither parent was in court yesterday, but both of their solicitors were. The judge was told the couple usually attended court hearings and always attended access. The father’s solicitor said his client was using a drug prescribed by his GP and the couple was looking for accommodation. The judge said he was satisfied the interim care order should continue for another 28 days.
In another case, the judge agreed to release a judgment he had written last June to the legal advisers of foster carers who are trying to have the two children in their care made wards of court.
Counsel for the children’s court-appointed guardians had argued the District Court had jurisdiction to refuse to permit withdrawal of the application, but Judge Toale ruled he did not have the power to do that.
The two children were due to be reunited with their parents, but at the High Court two weeks ago, Mr Justice Peter Kelly said that should not happen, pending a full hearing of the wardship application. He described the alleged sexual abuse of the two as “the most disturbing evidence I have read in 20 years on the bench”.