Medics from John Radcliffe Hospital flying out to Afghanistan after servicewoman gives birth (From The Oxford Times)
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Medics from John Radcliffe Hospital flying out to Afghanistan after servicewoman gives birth
10:48am Thursday 20th September 2012 in News
A SPECIALIST medical team from Oxford's John Radcliffe Hospital are travelling to Afghanistan to help bring back a servicewoman and her premature baby born in the wartorn country.
The Ministry of Defence said the woman - who is understood to have been unaware of her pregnancy - had a son at Camp Bastion on Tuesday.
Both mother and baby are in a stable condition and are due to be flown home in the coming days after a specialist medical team from the JR arrives in the Helmand Province base.
An MoD spokesman said: "We can confirm that on September 18 a UK servicewoman serving in Afghanistan gave birth in the Camp Bastion Field Hospital to a baby boy.
"Mother and baby are both in a stable condition in the hospital and are receiving the best possible care. A specialist Paediatric Retrieval Team is being prepared and will deploy in the next few days in order to provide appropriate care for mother and baby on the flight home."
The spokesman added: "It is not military policy to allow service women to deploy on operations if they are pregnant. In this instance the MoD was unaware of her pregnancy. As with all medical cases, when the need arises, individuals are returned to the UK for appropriate treatment/care."
According to the Daily Mail, the woman served as a gunner with the Royal Artillery, and had been deployed with the 17th Mechanised Brigade since March. The newspaper said she only discovered she was pregnant after she went to medics complaining of stomach pains, and the baby was born five weeks premature.
A military expert called for more rigorous checks on women going to frontline duties to ensure they are not pregnant because of the risks to their welfare.
Major Charles Heyman, an author of books about the British Army and a former soldier, said he understood a simple urine test could have revealed the woman's condition.
"The Army needs to make sure for the welfare of the female soldier concerned that they are not pregnant before they deploy. I'm not an expert on pregnancy but I'm told that is to easy to tell that a woman is pregnant with a visit to a doctors' surgery and a urine test and that should perhaps be looked at before women go out on operations."
It is believed the medical team is flying out of RAF Brize Norton in West Oxfordshire.