AN INVESTIGATION by NSW Health into a gastroschisis cluster on the Northern Rivers may prove to be flawed after The Northern Star discovered a new case of the birth defect.
The case of Casino woman Lorene Cormick and her son Zentay may not have been considered by the panel of experts, who were pulled together to investigate as many as seven cases of gastroschisis on the Northern Rivers over the last three years.
This week, NSW Director of Public Health Paul Corben said that the high occurrence of the defect in recent years was a “random aggregation of cases” because there had been no cases of gastroschisis in the region between 2000 and 2007.
However, Ms Cormick was living at Cedar Point, near Kyogle, when she gave birth to a child with gastroschisis in a Brisbane hospital in 2003.
Ms Cormick said she had agreed to talk to the media because she thought there could be more undetected cases on the Northern Rivers.
“I thought I was the only one this had happened to until I read about the others in the paper,” Ms Cormick said.
Jacqui McSkimming, the mother of a child born with the condition in 2010 and who pushed for the investigation, said NSW Health must establish exactly how many babies had been affected by the horrific condition in the local area, and it must then look for a cause before the public could have any faith in the thoroughness of its investigation.
At least seven cases of the rare condition on the Northern Rivers over the last 10 years appear to have gone undetected due to a breakdown in communication between Queensland health authorities, where the babies are transported before their birth, and NSW Health.
Gastroschisis is a condition in which babies are born with their intestinal contents freely protruding through a hole in the abdominal wall. It kills as many as 10% of sufferers.
NSW Health did not respond to a request for a comment.
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