Mother reveals her baby died after catching herpes from a peck

‘I never imagined a kiss could kill my baby’: Heartbroken mother reveals her 14-day-old daughter died after catching herpes from a peck

  • Kelly Ineson and Thomas Cummins said they were ‘so careful’ with their baby
  • Baby Kiara’s was rushed to hospital when her weight dropped at ten days old
  • She developed sepsis as her kidney’s shut down and she was on life support 
  • Doctors diagnosed herpes simplex virus, fatal to babies, after four days 
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A heartbroken mother has revealed her newborn daughter died after contracting the herpes simplex virus through a kiss.    

Kelly Ineson, 30, and her fiancé Thomas Cummins, 26, of Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, said they were ‘always so careful’, asking people who were ill to not kiss their baby, Kiara Cummins.   

However, at 10 days old, Kiara was rushed back to the same hospital when her weight had suddenly dropped.   

Doctors failed to diagnose the infection for four days, as Kiara’s kidneys shut down, she developed sepsis and was put in an induced coma. 

After a diagnosis of neonatal herpes, Kiara’s parents were told there was nothing they could do. One by one, the machines keeping her alive were turned off. 

Neonatal herpes, herpes in a newborn, is caused by the highly contagious herpes simplex virus that causes cold sores and genital ulcers in adults. 

Kelly Ineson, 30, and her fiancé Thomas Cummins, 26, of of Dewsbury, West Yorkshire said they were ‘always so careful’, asking people who were ill to not kiss their baby, Kiara Cummins. She died at 14 days old after contracting herpes simplex virus, most likely from a kiss. Pictured, the parents with Kiara (blurred) after she passed away

In hospital, Kiara’s oxygen levels dropped, her kidneys began to shut down and she developed sepsis. She was on life support for four days as doctors tried to diagnose the infection

‘I never in my worst nightmares imagined a kiss could kill my baby’: Miss Ineson and Mr Cummins say there is not enough awareness about herpes simplex virus

Neonatal herpes affects 1.65 babies per 100,000 born in the UK, compared to 33 per 100,000 in the US. 

Ms Ineson, who is a mother-of-three from a previous relationship, is issuing a stark warning not to kiss other people’s babies.

She said: ‘Doctors have told us that Kiara most likely contracted the virus through someone kissing her.

‘We were always so careful, not letting anyone near her if they seemed poorly, or hadn’t washed their hands. 

‘We’ve been asked if we remember anyone with a cold sore kissing her, but we don’t, and would never have let that happen.

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‘I’ve been going over every little detail of what happened in my mind, desperate to find an answer as to exactly what happened, but I don’t think I’ll ever get one – and that’s what’s killing me.

‘I never in my worst nightmares imagined a kiss could kill my baby, and I don’t want any other parents to go through this.’  

Kiara was born on July 30, but a routine midwife check at ten days old found that Kiara’s weight had suddenly dropped from 6lb 11oz to below her 6lb 5oz birth weight.

Worried, Ms Ineson and Mr Cummins raced their daughter to hospital, where doctors concluded that she had an infection – although they were not sure exactly what kind.

Kiara was transferred to a more specialist hospital, where, for the next four days, her condition rapidly declined.  

Her oxygen levels continued to drop and the infection began to shut down her kidneys. She needed urgent dialysis to remove waste products.

‘It was horrendous. I couldn’t help but think of the worst case scenario,’ Ms Ineson said. ‘Every time we got a little bit of hope, something else would happen.

‘I remember once popping out of the ward to get a cup of tea and some fresh air, and Kiara’s oxygen levels dropped while I was gone.

‘I came back to see all these doctors running to her bedside and I just crumbled. I think, deep down, I knew then that she wouldn’t survive.

‘Even though doctors stabilised her, I couldn’t help but look at her hooked up to all those machines, with an oxygen mask on, and wonder how she was going to pull through.’

One by one, the machines keeping Kiara alive were turned off as her parents were told there was nothing they could do after a diagnosis of herpes simplex virus. Pictured, Miss Ineson with her daughter after death

Kiara, pictured with her mother after she was born, was rushed to hospital when her weight suddenly dropped when she was ten days old 

In time, medics discovered that Kiara had contracted neonatal herpes from a strain of the herpes simplex virus. The virus can prove fatal to a baby because their immune system has not yet fully developed.  

Tragically, at 13 days old, Kiara’s developed deadly sepsis – where the body attacks itself in response to an infection.

Kiara was placed in an induced coma to give her a chance to fight it off. But her parents were told even if she pulled through, she would have probably been severely brain damaged. 

‘We begged doctors to do what they could, but it was no use,’ said Ms Ineson. ‘We were essentially told that we’d be waiting for her to die.

‘I couldn’t hear any more. I just broke down, running down the corridor screaming until I collapsed.

‘I knew Thomas and I had a horrendous decision to make. It was incredibly hard, but in the end, we agreed with the doctors to let her go with peace and dignity, rather than prolong her suffering.

‘Our family all came to say goodbye, then left us two with her while, one by one, all the machines keeping her alive were removed. She passed away at 6:32pm on August 13 – the worst moment of my life.’  

Ms Ineson is now desperate to raise awareness of the herpes simplex virus that took her daughters’ life. 

According to The Herpes Viruses Association, many people will be unaware that they carry the virus, with only one in three exhibiting symptoms that lead to a diagnosis.

With newborns, the virus can be passed on either by a kiss, or by the mother if she has had genital herpes for the first time within the last six weeks of pregnancy.

The risk is significantly reduced if she has had it prior to pregnancy, as she will have passed on the antibodies needed to fight it.

Ms Ineson said: ‘Before this, like most people, I thought of herpes as an STI. But it’s actually a virus that many people may not realise they carry.

‘There’s nowhere near enough information about herpes out there. Even those in the medical profession need to be much more aware of it, and the damage it can cause.’

Miss Ineson’s son’s from a previous relationship, Brandon, 11, and Harry, eight, holding Kiara

Medics discovered that Kiara had contracted a strain of the herpes simplex virus, which is fatal to babies. The virus can be passed on either by a kiss, or by the mother if she has had genital herpes for the first time within the last six weeks of pregnancy

Stay-at-home mother Ms Ineson, who has three other children, Brandon, 11, Jamielea, ten, and Harry, eight, recalled her elation when she discovered she was pregnant in November 2017. 

Ms Ineson said the father-to-be, Mr Cummins, a warehouse worker, ‘literally leapt with joy’ at the happy news.

‘When I told my other children, they couldn’t wait,’ she recalled. ‘Jamielea was hysterical, she was that excited, and the boys were thrilled to have another sister on the way.’

But, Ms Ineson’s pregnancy was not an easy one. A routine screening test offered to all pregnant women between ten and 14 weeks revealed that her baby had a five per cent chance of having Down’s syndrome.

She said: ‘I met with a specialist and they talked about termination, but that simply wasn’t an option.

‘The way I saw it was if she had Down’s syndrome, she had Down’s syndrome. I knew whatever happened, I’d deal with it and love her just the same.’

Then Ms Ineson’s labour came with an onslaught of difficulties. After experiencing cramps and an alarming ‘gushing’ sensation, she phoned the hospital.

She said: ‘At first, they said the contractions were too far apart, but asked me to keep timing them and call them back.

‘Eventually, they got closer and closer together, and it was time to go in.

‘When I got to A&E, a nurse asked me for a urine sample – but it came out completely green, almost like mint sauce.

After laying Kiara to rest,  Miss Ineson vowed to do all she could to raise awareness of the herpes simplex virus, which she say’s not enough people are aware of, even medics

‘I was really panicking then, especially when they told me it was because Kiara had pooed in the womb. I knew that could be really dangerous.’

With both Ms Ineson and Kiara becoming distressed, doctors decided the safest course of action was to perform an emergency caesarean.

Ms Ineson said: ‘I was on gas and air, so things are a little hazy, but I remember them getting Kiara out and hearing nothing – no crying.

‘I just lay there feeling helpless, as doctors rushed around. I got a two second glance as they whisked her out, then couldn’t see her again for hours.’

To stabilise Kiara, doctors put her in an incubated hospital for 48 hours, hooked onto antibiotics. 

She had struggled to breathe when she was first born, and doctors wanted to ensure she was healthy incase she had not swallowed any of her faeces during labour.

The next day, she and Ms Ineson were well enough to go home.

Ms Ineson said: ‘I was really happy with Kiara’s progress, as were the doctors. Things seemed absolutely fine. 

‘She had lovely rosy pink cheeks and was healthily gaining weight. She settled in right away at home.’ 

Ms Ineson never believed that only a few days older, she would have to say goodbye to her daughter in a tragic turn of events.  

After laying Kiara to rest in a poignant butterfly-themed service on August 29 – before bringing her ashes home to be by her bedside – Ms Ineson vowed to do all she could to raise awareness of the herpes simplex virus.

With the support of the Herpes Viruses Association, she is speaking out for the first time, urging other parents to realise the dangers of letting people kiss their newborn babies.

She said: ‘Breaking the news to my other children was one of the hardest parts of this. 

‘They understand Kiara isn’t coming back, but they never saw her in hospital, so I’m glad their memories of her will always be of her at home healthy.

‘All I want now is for parents and doctors alike to educate themselves on the herpes simplex virus and how devastating it can be. It’s not something you ever dream of looking out for, but it can destroy lives.

‘It’s very hard for us thinking about Kiara and what she’d be doing if she was here. She should be getting ready for her first Christmas, but instead we have to struggle with all these unanswered questions. All we can do is take it one day at a time.’ 

Marian Nicholson, director of the Herpes Viruses Association says: ‘Please don’t kiss other people’s babies. 

‘You might be one of the people who has cold sores that are so mild you haven’t noticed them – yet your mild infection could be transferred to a new baby.

‘Catching cold sores before the baby is six to nine months old can be serious, as their immune systems aren’t well developed.

‘Mothers with cold sores should not worry about kissing their own babies, because during the last months of pregnancy, a mother who has had cold sores passes protective antibodies for this virus to her baby through the placenta.

‘And if mum has not had cold sores herself, then a dad with a cold sore should not kiss his baby. 

‘Also, dads need to be careful not to pass on cold sore virus to mums in the last stages of pregnancy because by then it may be too late for her to develop the antibodies her baby needs. Then the new baby will have no protection when it is born.’ 


Neonatal herpes occurs when a newborn baby catches the virus.

The herpes simplex virus is highly contagious and spreads via cold sores or genital ulcers in adults. 

Herpes can be very serious in newborns due to their immune systems not being strong enough to fight off the infection.

It affects just 1.65 babies per 100,000 born in the UK compared to 33 per 100,000 in the US.  

If the virus spreads to a baby’s organs, nearly a third die even if they have been treated.

A baby can be at risk if its mother catches genital herpes for the first time during the first six weeks of her pregnancy.

Such women can pass the infection to their babies if they have a vaginal delivery.

After birth, a baby is at risk of a person has a cold sore and then kisses it or if its mother breastfeeds and has herpes sores on her breasts. This can occur if she touches her cold sore and then her breasts. 

Cold sores are at their most contagious when they burst but remain contagious until they have completely healed.

A baby may be infected if it:

  • Is lethargic or irritable
  • Refuses food
  • Has a fever
  • Has rashes or sores on its skin, eyes or inner mouth

If a baby becomes lifeless, will not wake, has breathing difficulties, or has a blue tongue or skin, call 999 immediately.

Treatment usually involves antiviral drugs given intravenously. 

To reduce the risk of a baby being infected, people should not kiss infants if they have a cold sore and should wash their hands before touching them.

Source: NHS 

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