Mum suspected of abusing her baby 'could never have imagined the truth'

Started by Chyna, Sep 13, 2022, 03:35 PM

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Mum suspected of abusing her baby 'could never have imagined the truth'

Chloe Rhodes could not understand why her newborn daughter wouldn't stop screaming. Autumn had a fractured leg and collarbone, but there was no explanation for her injuries

By Paige Oldfield & Graeme Murray News Reporter

15:30, 10 Sep 2022

Chloe Rhodes could not understand why her newborn daughter wouldn't stop screaming.  She had a fractured leg and collarbone, but there was no explanation for her injuries.  The mum took Autumn Stephenson to hospital in January last year after noticing she wasn't crawling properly.  The one-year-old was then dragging her feet and cried when an a nappy was changed.  Because seriousness of her injuries Manchester Evening News reports, the hospital needed to report its findings to social services.  Chloe, 23, was no longer allowed to care for her children alone leaving her baffled and devastated.  Autumn, now aged two, remained in hospital for several days while medics carried out child protection tests.  Chloe, meanwhile, needed to be supervised around her children at all times.  And her mother and sister moved into her home to care for Autumn and her three-year-old brother, Oliver.  It took six months for the family to find out what had really happened to Autumn. during which time, Chloe was regularly visited by social services, but she had done nothing wrong.  The mum from Oldham, Greater Manchester said: "While you're trying to adjust to everything that's going on around you, you now have to prove yourself to social services.  You have to try and prove you're innocent and fight against them while trying to soak up this new life."

It was in July 2021 that the family finally got the breakthrough they had been waiting for.  Autumn was not being abused she had an extremely rare condition.  Osteogenesis Imperfecta, or brittle bone disease, meant Autumn's bones are soft and break easily.  The news was too overwhelming for Chloe to feel much relief.  She said: "I ended up really depressed.  Not only did I have to accept my daughter had a condition for life, to see my daughter in pain, I was on edge all the time. Any little fall, any little bump, I was panicking."

Even before her baby's fractures were discovered there were signs that something wasn't quite right with her health.  In January 2020, when Autumn was four-months-old, Chloe noticed she was not growing properly.  And when the tot vomited for nine days straight, Chloe took her to A&E.  While in hospital, doctors noticed the whites of Autumn's eyes were blue.  She also had an arched palette in the roof of her mouth.  Both are indicators of brittle bone disease and Chloe believes safeguarding procedures could have been avoided if Autumn had been diagnosed earlier.  "It's just been crazy. Because of how little awareness there is, not many people know about the condition.  Things got out of hand. Things could have been a whole lot different had the local hospital known about the condition and had awareness of it.  We wouldn't have had to wait months for them to admit it wasn't an accidental fracture or having to be supervised with the kids for as long as we did because there was a lot of evidence pointing to a medical condition."

She added: "It's not nice to be accused or even being suspected of abusing your kids.  It's weird to think I'm saying I'm lucky, I wasn't but I'm luckier than some of the other situations other families have found themselves in."

Autumn has fractured her leg three times, her clavicle, her collarbone, her finger twice and her toe but her family fear the number of injuries could be much greater.  "While she is able to live life as a normal child, Chloe says she is not allowed on bouncy castle or trampolines and has to be watched at all times.  When the genetic testing was done and the results came back in July confirming she did have the condition, social services backed off,"

Chloe added. "When people hear you have to be supervised with your kids, when they find out your kid has multiple fractures and don't know anything, they start to get judgemental.  People just automatically think you must have hurt your kids. It was a lot to take in when you're already having a rubbish time.  We just take every day as it comes. Most of the time she's just really happy singing and chatting away to everything.  Even when she broke her leg this year, she was still making everyone laugh while she was in the hospital. She's really resilient."

Chloe climbed Snowdon to fundraise for the Brittle Bones Society, a charity which has helped the family in recent years.  She was accompanied by mum, Sarah Hoy, stepdad, Darren Hoy, sister Emma Rhodes and family friends, Kirsty Kendrick and Alan Farmer.  The hike took the team six and a half hours to complete and has so far raised £750 on Justgiving where donations can be made.