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Counterintuitive or Commonsensical? Case Comment on Meadows v Khan [2017] EWHC 2990 (QB) - Lucile Taylor

24/01/18. The question posed by Meadows v Khan [2017] EWHC 2990 (QB) was whether a mother who consults a doctor with a view to avoiding the birth of a child with a particular disability, as opposed to the birth of any child, could recover damages for the additional costs associated with another, unrelated disability. The answer given by Mrs Justice Yip was a counterintuitive, yet commonsensical yes.


The Claimant (“C”) sought damages arising out of the wrongful birth of her son, who suffered from both haemophilia and autism.

C's nephew had been diagnosed with haemophilia. C wished to avoid having a child with that condition and so consulted her GP to establish whether she was a carrier of the haemophilia gene.

The tests subsequently undertaken were blood tests which only established whether C had haemophilia but not whether she was a carrier, for which she would have needed to have been referred for genetic testing.

C was reassured by the Defendant (“D”), another GP at the same practice, that the results of the blood tests were normal. As a result of that advice, C was led to believe that any child she had would not have haemophilia.

C became pregnant. Shortly after her son's birth, he was diagnosed as having haemophilia. C was referred for genetic testing which belatedly confirmed that she was, in fact, a carrier of the haemophilia gene.

The agreed facts were that, but for D's negligence, C's son would not have been born. Had C previously been referred for genetic testing, she would have known she was a carrier before becoming pregnant. She would have undergone foetal testing for haemophilia, discovered that the foetus was afflicted and would have chosen to terminate the pregnancy.

Her son was later diagnosed as also suffering from autism. Importantly, the fact that he had haemophilia did not cause his autism or make it more likely that he would have had autism. Any pregnancy would have carried the same risk of autism. Management of his haemophilia would, however, be complicated by his autism. It was unlikely that he would be able to learn and retain information, administer his own medication or...

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