PARENTS feared their daughter would be taken away from them after doctors mistook brittle bone disease for child abuse.
Duncan and Lisa Sykes took Charlotte to hospital after she broke her leg while learning to walk, aged just one
But when they returned to hospital with a series of fractures a few months later, doctors grew concerned and called in social services officials to interview the couple and their teenage son.
Terrified that their daughter would be taken away, the Almondbury couple begged doctors at Calderdale Royal Hospital in Halifax to delve further in to the problem and let them take their daughter home.
Health professionals agreed to send Charlotte to St James’ Hospital in Leeds.
A five-minute DEXA scan, which looks at bone density, revealed that Charlotte, who was three by this time, was suffering from Osteogenesis Imperfecta – commonly known as brittle bone disease.
Lisa said: “Charlotte had her first fracture before she was one.
“She was climbing up the side of a chair and her leg just broke.
“It wasn’t normal and I couldn’t work out how she had done it; we took her straight to Huddersfield Royal Infirmary.
“She was put in boots as doctors noticed that she was flat-footed and was suffering from hypermobility.”
Hypermobility describes joints that stretch further than is normal.
“Nobody spotted brittle bone at this point.
“Charlotte went on to have more breaks.
“It was almost as though, if she walked, she would break.
“We were constantly in hospital and we just couldn’t understand what was going on. How was this happening? It was not normal.
“HRI referred us to Calderdale Royal Hospital where Charlotte was taken in to have 30 X-rays.
“I wasn’t allowed to be with her at this point. The doctors wouldn’t let me because they thought that we had done this to her.
“We were interviewed for over an hour about our home life and Charlotte.
“My teenage son was interviewed, he had to be taken out of school; he was absolutely mortified.
“I overheard doctors talking, saying that social services needed to be involved.
“I was terrified that she would be taken away from us.
“I even made my mum come to the hospital with us every time we went – just in case they said she couldn’t go home with us – so she could go with my mum.
“My husband and I pushed and pushed and pushed for them to look deeper in to this, what was happening to our daughter?
“They could see she looked well and was happy apart from the pain of the breaks.
“Eventually doctors agreed to send Charlotte to Leeds and within five minutes she was given a diagnosis.
“And doctors discovered three crushed vertebrae.”
Lisa and her family are hoping to raise awareness of brittle bone disease and hope that the DEXA scan will be more readily given to children who come in with similar injuries.
Charlotte, who is now five, was referred to the Metabolic Bone Centre, in Sheffield Teaching Hospital, where she receives intensive treatment every three months.
Although she is regularly in pain, in the past year and a half she has only suffered one further break in her foot.
The youngster uses a wheelchair around three days a week. She is currently nearing her next treatment, which Lisa said makes her hyper to cope with the pain.
The Greenside Primary School pupil is constantly moving and does not sleep for more than four hours a night despite taking the sleeping aid Melatonin.
Her mum, who is her primary carer, spends the night awake with her daughter.
The school has provided her with a one-to-one carer to ensure she can cope in school. Lisa praised staff for helping get her daughter the right care.
The whole family has been busy fundraising for the Brittle Bone Society. Dad Duncan recently ran the London Marathon alongside his son Dominic Harris, who despite suffering two injuries along the way, completed the race
To find out more about their marathon effort and to donate to the cause visit: