Boy, 8, died of scurvy, coroner concludes

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An eight-year-old boy from Crymych died of scurvy, a coroner’s inquest heard last week.

Dylan Mungo Seabridge, from Dolau, Eglwyswrw, died from the disease shortly after being taken to hospital on December 6, 2011, the inquest at Milford Haven was told.

A report from coroner’s officer for Dyfed Powys Police, Jeremy Davies, explained that Dylan was educated at home by his parents, Glyn and Julie Seabridge, who had moved down to the area from Stoke with their eldest son in 2001.

After Dylan was born in 2003, his mother had returned to work as a teacher at Cardigan Secondary School, but suffered an injury three years later, and was registered sick until 2009 when she was dismissed from her post on ill health grounds by Ceredigion Council.

Mr. Davies went on to explain that on the day of Dylan’s death, paramedics arrived at the family home shortly before 8.30 pm, after Mr. Seabridge contacted the emergency services to say their youngest son had collapsed and had stopped breathing, after being ill for the past few days.

"Dylan was lying unconscious. He had bruising to his legs and was conveyed to hospital in Haverfordwest by ambulance," said Mr. Davies.

He went into cardiac arrest at hospital and unsuccessful attempts were made by doctors to resuscitate the boy.

It was noted by paramedics and police officers that there was bruising to the child’s ankle and knee areas, he had swollen legs and rash marks on his body, and it was initially thought he had contracted meningitis.

However, a subsequent post-mortem carried out by pathologist, Dr. Deryk Simon James, discovered abnormal findings, including loose teeth and massive soft tissue haemorrhage in the lower legs.

Dr. James’s findings went on to say that Dylan died of a vitamin C deficiency, known as scurvy.

The inquest heard how Dylan’s parents had said that they didn’t realise their son required any medical attention, as they thought he was just suffering with growing pains. They said that he maintained a good diet, and regularly drank orange juice.

It was reported that Dylan had failed to attend a three-year developmental check appointment with the childcare team in 2006, and attempts by healthcare workers to rearrange the appointment were passed on by his parents.

He was also registered as a patient at a local doctors surgery and dental practice, but there were no records of him being seen as a patient or any appointments being made for him.

Representing Mr. and Mrs. Seabridge, who were not present at the inquest, solicitor Katy Hanson told the hearing that the couple did not accept the findings that their son had died of scurvy.

She read out a report from Belgian Professor Joris Delanghe, which said that the diagnosis had been focused on scurvy, but he believed that this interpretation was "questionable" and Dylan’s conditions may have been caused by a number of other conditions.

Coroner, Mr. Mark Layton said at the inquest that Mr. and Mrs. Seabridge had been the subject of a thorough criminal investigation, but back in November the matter had been dismissed by the Crown Prosecution Service at Swansea Crown Court.

In summing up, he said that Dylan had died of a vitamin C deficiency, namely scurvy, and recorded an open conclusion.

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