Mother's plea for early diagnosis of rare Kawasaki disease

A mother from Doncaster has urged parents to be aware of a rare illness that left her baby with serious heart problems.

Freya McBride was one of the youngest children to be diagnosed with Kawasaki disease - an autoimmune disorder in which the blood vessels become inflamed. It can affect the heart if not caught early.

Freya was two months old when she became the youngest person in the country to be diagnosed with the condition.

She has now celebrated her first birthday, but by the time she was diagnosed it was too late to prevent damage to the heart.

“Freya suffered for nearly two weeks before a diagnosis was reached, but if the condition is diagnosed within 10 days and medication is given it reduces the risk of coronary complications from around 25 per cent. ''With the right treatment, within the right timescale, that 25 per cent risk is reduced to around 6 per cent, which is why it's really important that - if you think our child has this- that they are diagnosed quickly so they can receive the treatment.''

Joanne McBride

What is Kawasaki disease?

It is a rare childhood illness that affects the blood vessels. The symptoms can be severe for several days and can look scary to parents. But then most children return to normal activities.

It can harm the coronary arteries, which carry blood to the heart muscle. Most children who are treated recover from the disease without long-term problems.

The disease is most common in children ages 1 to 2 years and is less common in children older than age 8. It is not contagious.

What are the symptoms?

  • A fever lasting at least 5 days

  • Red eyes

  • A body rash

  • Swollen, red, cracked lips and tongue

  • Swollen, red feet and hands

  • Swollen lymph nodes in the neck

Katie Oscroft went along to meet Freya and her mother, Joanne.