EXTRA training has been recommended for social workers after the death of a day-old East Lancashire baby whose mother had concealed her pregnancy.

An inquiry has heard the baby girl, whose mother had autistic spectrum disorder and has been named only as Child AF, died after being delivered at 24 weeks.

Authors of a child safeguarding practice review into Child AF's death found the mother had opted to terminate the pregnancy but not completed the necessary procedure, which involved administering tablets at home.

Five other children born to the mother, referred to as Sophie in the report, had been taken into care amid concerns they could come to 'significant harm' if she cared for them.

Her family had raised concerns on at least two occasions with social services that the mother, who also suffers from obsessive compulsive disorder, was attempting to conceal her latest pregnancy.

But although concerns emerged, after an unannounced social worker's visit for a pre-birth assessment, that Sophie had bought a pram and a toy car, appropriate action was not taken.

The review said though when the social worker spoke with Sophie she told them the pregnancy had been terminated and later produced a negative pregnancy test in support of this.

Independent reviewer Louise Rae said: "There was an over-reliance placed on Sophie’s story and an acceptance that the tests being shown were accurate.

"The social worker, not understanding the termination procedure, had no reason to challenge her assertion that the hospital had watched her take the tablets in the clinic.

"There were, however, opportunities to ask Sophie to take a pregnancy test in line with the Pan Lancashire Concealed and Denied Pregnancy Guidance rather than show staff one that she had brought with her and opportunities to challenge Sophie on the pram observed in the house."

An inquiry discovered Sophie had experienced a 'difficult and traumatic childhood', including being exposed to neglectful parenting, exposure to parental alcohol abuse and domestic abuse from her mother’s partner to her mother.

Her latest pregnancy had only come to light after Sophie was involved with a police car chase and told officers she was eight weeks pregnant.

The serious case review made seven recommendations after considering evidence provided by East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust, social services, Lancashire and South Cumbria NHS Foundation Trust and Lancashire Police.

Extra training has been advised on pregnancy termination procedures and safeguarding measures and improved communication between partners on the issue.

Children's social care has been urged to include details of a parent's learning disability on a child's digital file and develop their understanding of 'vulnerable' expectant mothers.

"Information regarding the termination of pregnancies should be conveyed to women’s GPs with consent and as part of a patient’s health record unless there are expressed reasons for not doing so," the report adds.

Further work on raising awareness of concealed pregnancy guidance is also recommended.

County Councillor Cosima Towneley, county children and families cabinet member, said: "While a multi-agency approach is well embedded within children's social care services, this review has highlighted the importance of clear, consistent communication and regular sharing of safeguarding information between children's social care, health and the police.

"There have been policy and guidance changes as a result of these unfortunate events and I am confident further and ongoing training and communication throughout the partnership will help to ensure we can prevent this from happening in the future."

Prof Sarah O'Brien, chief nursing officer at Lancashire and South Cumbria Integrated Care Board, added: "The partnership will take on board the recommendations of this review, particularly around supporting parents with learning disabilities and learning difficulties, understanding of termination of pregnancy procedures and wider awareness of the Pan Lancashire Concealed and Denied Pregnancy Guidance.

"We will continue to work together to improve our safeguarding practices to protect the health and wellbeing of vulnerable parents, children and young people in Lancashire."