Obstetrician suspended after baby born without face

LISBON • Portugal has suspended an obstetrician suspected of negligence after a baby was born without a face, in a case that has shocked the country.

The baby, Rodrigo, was born on Oct 7 without a nose, eyes or part of his skull, but the deformities were discovered only during his delivery at a hospital in Setubal, about 40km south of Lisbon.

Portugal's Medical Council unanimously voted on Tuesday to suspend Dr Artur Carvalho from practising for six months. The obstetrician has six other complaints against him, dating back to 2013.

The parents of the deformed baby lodged a complaint.

"There is strong evidence" of the doctor's negligence, which "may lead to a disciplinary sanction", Mr Alexandre Valentim Lourenco, medical council chief for the southern region, told broadcaster RTP.

Given the impact of this case, which "has repercussions on the reputation of doctors" and "to reassure pregnant women", the suspension was necessary, he said.

Dr Caravalho had followed the pregnancy of Rodrigo's mother in a private clinic in Setubal where he performed three mandatory ultrasounds but did not report any issues of concern.

The parents were alerted to a possible anomaly of the foetus after they requested a further ultrasound in the sixth month of the pregnancy but were reassured by the doctor.

"He explained that sometimes some parts of the face are not visible (on ultrasounds)," said Ms Joana Simao, the mother's sister.

The baby remains at the paediatric wing of the hospital where he was born.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 25, 2019, with the headline 'Obstetrician suspended after baby born without face'. Print Edition | Subscribe