Spixworth mother’s trauma over son’s club foot

A Norwich mother told today how her baby son's condition led to her being accused of child abuse by a complete stranger.

Yasmin Desborough's 10-month-old son, Cole, has talipes, commonly known as club foot.

It is a condition where the ankle is twisted, the foot points down and the sole faces inwards.

While his feet were being corrected, Cole spent the first eight weeks of his life in a plaster cast.

Mrs Desborough, 27, of Brambles Close, Spixworth, said: 'I was in Asda when Cole was four weeks old.

'A lady came up to me and screamed really loudly that people like me shouldn't be able to have children. I said that he had a condition but she was adamant that I had caused injuries to Cole.

'I got out of the supermarket as quickly as I could and went to the car and sobbed.'

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She said that she could see people would point and whisper about Cole when she went out.

Mrs Desborough also recalls taking Cole for treatment when he was eight weeks old: 'I was in the waiting room which was full of older people and they were all just staring at him and then at me.'

'But I have found that a lot of people are genuinely interested and say they know someone who has a club foot.

'There is not enough awareness of the condition. I always wanted his legs to be covered because I didn't want him to be stared at.

'Looking back, I wish I hadn't felt like I had to keep his legs covered. It shouldn't be like that.'

Mrs Desborough, an insurance advisor, and her husband Jon, 29, a company director, discovered Cole's club feet at the 20-week scan.

She said: 'We knew something was wrong because they kept checking and then they called for someone else. When they told me I just had these horrible images because I didn't know what it was.

'We were in limbo. Although they said he had club feet, we wouldn't know the severity until he was born.'

Cole was treated using the Ponseti technique where his foot was manipulated and put into a cast. He had his first cast when he was just four days old.

Mrs Desborough said: 'Every Thursday we went back to the hospital to have to cast off and the position of the foot changed. They grade the feet from one to six with six being the worst. Cole's feet were a grade six at first and after three weeks in the cast he was a grade three.

'Cole was also in a harness because he was born with shallow hips. After eight and a half weeks Cole's harness and cast was taken off and he had a tenotomy, a process where the tendon is cut at the back of the heal.

'Cole will spend 14 hours every day strapped into his boots and bars until he is five. He sleeps in them from 6.30pm until 8.30am. When he first had the boots and bars, he had to wear them for 23 hours a day.'

The couple received help from Steps, a charity which helps children with lower limb abnormalities.

Mrs Desborough said: 'Steps were wonderful, they helped me so much. Staff at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital have been fantastic.

'There is no reason why Cole will not be as mobile as other children but some can have a relapse. He is such a placid, laid back baby.'

The couple also have a daughter, Adrianna, 22 months.

'She has been brilliant with Cole and she in now obsessed with shoes.' Mrs Desborough said.

Have you overcome a life changing condition? Contact reporter Lucy Wright on 01603 772495 or email lucy.wright@archant.co.uk