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Sunday, 5 March, 2000, 07:36 GMT
CJD threat to mothers
CJD brain
CJD causes the brain to become spongy
Instruments used to deliver a baby whose mother was suffering from the human form of mad cow disease were used for another two months on up to 10 pregnant women, it has been revealed.

The fear is that the instruments may have been contaminated with the agent which causes new variant Creutzfeld Jakob Disease (CJD).

They were reused in a number of Caesarean sections in an unnamed hospital in the Midlands, before the mother was diagnosed as having the disease, the human form of Bovine Spongiform Encephalitis (BSE).

Dr Rod Griffiths, the West Midlands' Director of Public Health, said the risk of infection was "vanishingly small".

He said staff at the hospital where the baby was born had followed proper procedures, removing the surgical instruments from use as soon as the mother's condition was known.

Dr Griffiths said it was theoretically possible for the prion that causes CJD to remain on instruments after operations, but it was usually removed in the sterilisation process.

Tests on baby

The mother with CJD gave birth last autumn. Neither her nor the hospital where she gave birth can be named for legal reasons.

Her daughter is thought to be suffering from a neurological condition and doctors are awaiting the result of tests to see if she has inherited CJD.

If so, she may be the first child to have inherited CJD from her mother.

Relatives of the woman told The Sunday Times: "Nobody knew what was wrong with her at the time. We are desperately sorry for all the women and babies who will spend years wondering if they are infected and then possibly go through the same tragedy as us."

Symptoms of CJD include becoming unsteady, confusion and loss of memory. Death normally occurs about six months after the onset of the disease.

Dr Griffiths said the other mothers involved had not been contacted by health officials, which was normal procedure where the level of risk was not known.

New variant CJD has been linked to the consumption of beef infected with BSE.

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See also:

21 Dec 99 |  Health
CJD: What is the risk?
13 Nov 99 |  Health
Blood test for CJD created
24 Feb 00 |  Health
Drugs 'slow mad cow disease'
14 Jan 00 |  Health
CJD treatment 'draws closer'
19 Jan 00 |  Health
CJD 'will not be an epidemic'
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