Friday, October 8, 1999

Nanny State: You're too fat to have children, so lets take your infant away

Social workers remove new-born baby from obese mother

Social workers have moved to take into care a baby born to an obese mother.

The mother — who cannot be named in order to protect the identity of the children — gave birth by Caesarean section last week in a Dundee hospital but was told within 24 hours that she would not be allowed to keep the baby.

She has already had the youngest of her six children, aged 3 and 4, removed from her care because social workers feared that they were at risk of becoming obese. The 40-year-old mother weighed 23 stone before falling pregnant.

The parents originally contacted social workers themselves to seek help with managing their children, one of whom has developmental problems. At that time they had a toddler who weighed 4 stone and a 13-year-old boy who weighed more than 16 stone.

The married couple, who cannot be named for legal reasons, were warned last year that that they had to bring their six children’s weight under control.

Speaking to The Times yesterday the father of the baby, aged 54, said that the whole family was “heartbroken” at the loss of their baby.

“I can’t sleep, I can’t eat. I can’t tell you how powerless I feel. The other children are devastated too,” he said.

“My wife was told she could stay with our baby for another 24 hours but then she would have to go home alone. She got up out of her bed and left the hospital right there and then. I had to wait behind to say my goodbyes to the baby.”

The father said social workers had assured him last week that they would not go near the hospital and that he believed an interim report by Dundee Families Project recommending intensive support for the whole family was to be acted upon. He said he was “shocked and traumatised” that social workers had come into the labour ward and attempted to serve papers on his wife.

A hearing tomorrow will discuss a social work application to remove the family's remaining three children.

The family has already made two legal attempts to have the two children already taken from them returned and they were due to make a third appeal against the decision today.

Dundee City Council said: “Local authorities who are involved in the welfare of children have a legal duty to ensure they are protected from publicity that may have a serious effect on them and the council takes seriously this responsibility.

“We have made it clear on numerous occasions that children would not be removed from a family environment just because of a weight issue.”

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