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Deaths of two new mothers was 'not coincidence'.

The deaths of two new mothers from the same infection are likely to be linked, an expert said yesterday.

Mark Enright, professor of molecular epidemiology at Imperial College, London, said he thought it was unlikely the deaths were coincidental.

Teachers Amy Kimmance, 39, and Jasmine Pickett, 29, died from the same infection after giving birth on the same day, December 21, at the Royal Hampshire County Hospital in Winchester.

After they were discharged, Mrs Kimmance, who had a girl, died on December 23 and Mrs Pickett, who had a boy, died on December 24.

Both women died from complications caused by a group A streptococcal infection.

The Winchester and Eastleigh Healthcare NHS Trust has said investigations so far show their deaths were coincidental.

A spokesman said yesterday that Mrs Kimmance developed fatal toxic shock syndrome as a result of a group A streptococcal infection while Mrs Pickett died from a sudden onset of severe pneumonia, likely to have been caused by a group A streptococcal infection.

Prof Enright said it was possible the deaths were not linked, but he believed there was a high chance they were.

He said: "If you look at the national figures, you are talking about around 100 women dying after giving birth in the UK every year."

The chances of two women dying after giving birth on the same day in the same hospital from the same infection were very small, he said.

"It's extremely unlikely in my view that they are not linked," he added.

Prof Enright said he believed a member of staff had been carrying the infection in their throat, got it on to their hands and passed it on.

He said he would be interested to see the results of laboratory tests on the women to see if the identity of the bacteria was the same.

A spokeswoman for the trust said today laboratory reports were expected back but these would be sent straight to the coroner's office to form part of an inquest.

A statement from the trust said: "Despite some similarities, the clinical facts so far suggest that these are two separate tragic incidents and are not directly related to the clinical care received at the hospital.

"The trust is undertaking a full investigation and its approach is being supported by the South Central Strategic Health Authority.

"The trust is also working closely with the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Health Protection Unit which is assisting with the investigation.

"The coroner has opened and adjourned an inquest into both deaths.

"As a precaution, extensive swabbing of maternity staff and the unit itself has been carried out.

"To date there have been no results which directly link either the unit or the staff with the cause of the fatalities and therefore the maternity unit remains open."

The Health Protection Agency (HPA) said "clusters" of infections had been reported in hospitals but were rare.
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Jan 5, 2008
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