Nottingham

'No smile' baby girl dies after life support row

Generic image of a baby's hand
Image caption The six-month-old girl "died peacefully in her mother's arms", a lawyer in the case confirmed

A seriously ill baby - who doctors said did not seem able to smile - has died after a High Court judge ruled medics could stop providing life support.

The six-month-old girl "died peacefully in her mother's arms" on Wednesday, a lawyer involved in the case confirmed.

Mr Justice Keehan's ruling meant the girl could be moved to a palliative care regime, allowing her to die.

She was in the care of Nottingham City Council - which opposed the medics' request to move her to palliative care.

The girl had been born about 14 weeks premature and suffered brain damage during birth, a two-day hearing in the Family Division of the High Court in London heard.

Specialists said she had a "complex pattern" of medical problems and would have no meaningful sight, would not be able to communicate, would have no significant voluntary muscle movement and would not be able to feed herself or enjoy food.

She had never left hospital and doctors thought she would die before she was five.

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Image caption Doctors said the emergence of a smile in a baby was an indicator of cognitive function

One specialist also told Mr Justice Keehan that the little girl did not seem able to smile.

He said babies initially acted on instinct and the emergence of a smile was an indicator of cognitive function.

The girl's mother wanted her daughter to "pass away peacefully", while her father wanted a judge to decide.

Medics who work for Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust had treated the girl and wanted her life support to be withdrawn.

The council did not agree the burden of treatment outweighed the likely benefit. They said it was "far too early" to conclude that she would not be able to "derive benefit from continued life".

The judge concluded: "I am completely satisfied that the only course to be taken in [her] best interests is to withdraw her current life-sustaining treatment and to move her to a palliative regime and allow her to die peacefully in the arms of her loving parents."

Image caption The judge analysed the issues at a two-day hearing in the Family Division of the High Court in London

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