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Parents cleared of child abuse in new rickets case

Court says that more research is needed on vitamin D deficiency and rickets

A couple has been cleared of child abuse in care proceedings which were brought when an X-ray of a leg injury showed that a 5 month old baby had suffered multiple fractures. Unlike the case involving baby Jayden Wray, the parents were not charged with any criminal offence.

It was established that the baby was vitamin D and calcium deficient and that he had undiagnosed rickets.  Social services applied for a care order and asked the court to decide whether the baby's injuries were caused non-accidentally.

The court heard conflicting medical evidence about the effect of rickets and also heard very positive evidence of the parents' care of their child. The judge ruled that the local authority had not satisfied the court that the injuries were caused non-accidentally.

Acknowledging the heartache that had been suffered by the parents, the judge commented that further research is needed on the effects of vitamin D deficiency and rickets in children, echoing comments made by the judge in the family proceedings following Jayden Wray's death.

The mother's solicitor, Kevin Skinner of Goodman Ray, said:

"After the miscarriage of justice suffered by Jayden's parents, it is sad and frustrating to have other clients going through a similar experience just because their child is suffering from a relatively common medical condition. To be accused of abusing a child is terrible for any parent.

Although the Judge thought it was appropriate to undertake an investigation within the court proceedings and made no criticism of the local authority, court proceedings of this sort are devastating. If any good can come from these cases, we need to make sure that everyone involved in protecting children has an open mind and the knowledge and experience to know the difference between non-accidental injury and the consequences of an untreated condition.

I would certainly back the Judge's call for more research on the impact of rickets on children to avoid the misery of court proceedings wherever possible."

For a fuller report please visit The Guardian's website. In order to read the judgment in the care proceedings concerning Jayden Wray - LB of Islington v Al Alas and Wray [2012] EWHC 865 (Fam) - which set out the expert evidence in detail, please click here.