A BABY died after its mother deliberately brought on premature labour by taking drugs she had bought from China.
The tragedy was unravelled at an inquest in Huddersfield yesterday, which heard how the baby boy - known as Baby Tang - battled to survive for 10 days before finally dying at Huddersfield Royal Infirmary's special care baby unit on December 11, 2005.
The mother, Zhimin Tang, was interviewed by police but has now vanished and is listed as a missing person.
Miss Tang had arrived at Huddersfield Royal Infirmary's accident and emergency department on December 1, 2005, complaining of stomach pains.
Miss Tang, 19, was around 26 weeks pregnant and told hospital staff that she had taken Chinese herbal remedies and two types of drug, with the intention of terminating her pregnancy by inducing premature labour.
Pathologist Dr Philip Batman told the inquest that the drugs she took are often used in legal abortions as an alternative to surgery. However, abortions are only legal up to 24 weeks into pregnancy. After this stage, special permission is required from a doctor, which is only given if the baby has a severe health condition or the mother's life is at risk.
Miss Tang was past the legal limit and had not been seen by a doctor until her arrival at HRI.
In the early hours of December 2, Miss Tang delivered her baby in the ward toilet.
The baby showed no signs of life but he was resuscitated by staff and taken to the special care baby unit.
The baby boy, who weighed just 160g, had problems with his brain and vital organs.
The inquest heard that while in hospital, Miss Tang had a change of heart and decided she would like to keep the baby. But he died in the unit on December 11 2005.
Dr Batman said the baby's health problems were caused by his premature birth, which was brought on by the drugs. He told the inquest that the baby would probably have been born healthy if he had been carried to full term.
Officers from the West Yorkshire Police Calderdale and Huddersfield Child and Public Protection Unit interviewed Miss Tang after the death of her son. She said she was studying English at Salford University and was living in Birkby. However, she refused to answer any further questions.
She surrendered her passport, but after the interview she disappeared and is still listed as a missing person.
One of the interviewing officers, Det Con Joanne Hind, told the inquest it is unlikely she will be found. She added: "I think it is a tragedy, she was a very young girl who was scared."
Coroner Roger Whittaker recorded a verdict that Baby Tang died after being subject to an illegal abortion.
He added: "Miss Tang may have changed her mind whilst in hospital, nevertheless, the abortion which she wished to take place did in fact take place. Sadly, he could not survive because of that prematurity."