Sheffield toddler with dairy allergy died after eating lactose-free yoghurt which parents thought was safe

A three-year-old boy from Sheffield with a severe allergy to dairy died after being fed a lactose-free yoghurt by his mother on what she believed was advice from a nutritionist, an inquest has heard.

Tuesday, 19th January 2021, 5:20 pm

Haruum Abdy, who also had asthma and eczema, became seriously unwell just minutes after ingesting a small amount of the yoghurt on September 17, 2017.

The youngster was given an inhaler and EpiPen but after not responding to treatment was rushed to Sheffield Children’s Hospital where he was pronounced dead at 5:13pm, with tests showing he suffered a fatal anaphylatic reaction to the lactose-free product.

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Sheffield Coroner's Court, where the inquest was held

During an inquest at Sheffield's Medico Legal Centre, assistant coroner Katy Dickinson heard how Haruum, of Mount Street, Sharrow, had been diagnosed with a severe milk and egg allergy in 2015 and was at risk of anaphylaxis if he became exposed to enough of either.

He was well known to the allergy service at Sheffield Children's Hospital.

Giving evidence at Monday’s inquest Dr Nicola Jay, a pediatric allergist at Sheffield Children’s Hospital, told how Haruum’s parents always followed the advice given by the service which included information on lactose-free products.

She said: “Every consultation that we have with every child that has a milk allergy, the nurses go through milk avoidance advice.

“In that it talks very much about the difference between the milk sugar, which is lactose, and the milk protein telling how the allergy is to the milk protein so it would be completely unsuitable for any child to have lactose free products. We go through that each time they come.”

However, Haruum's parents disputed this in court and said they never received such advice.

They also questioned why the youngster was not referred to a dermotologist for his eczema – a key factor in them seeking further help from nutritionist Mohamed Yasin Ahmed at his private natural healing clinic in Birmingham.

The inquest heard how Mr Ahmed, who did not give his company name, saw the family on September 16, 2017, just a day before Haruum’s death.

He conducted ‘food intolerance’ tests on Haruum but said he never mentioned lactose-free products as they could have potentially been dangerous for the youngster.

Haruum’s parents disagreed with this information, telling the inquest how they thought Mr Ahmed was a qualified doctor and “trusted” his abilities as there were other children in his clinic.

It was also claimed he advised on where to buy the lactose-free products in question.

Speaking at the inquest, Detective Sergeant Adrienna Sheekey explained how Mr Ahmed had been questioned in the investigation but no charges were brought.

Recording a narrative conclusion into Haruum’s death, Ms Dickinson said: “Master Abdy died on September 17, 2017 at the Sheffield Children’s Hospital. He had been diagnosed with a food allergy in 2015. He was given lactose-free yoghurt on September 17, 2017, which caused anaphylaxis and subsequent death.

"The family had sought nutritional advice the day before and understood that this was a safe food to provide, this was incorrect.”

Addressing Haruum’s loved ones in the court, she added: “I’m really sorry that you’ve lost your little boy, it’s a horrible thing to have gone through... you must miss him very much.”

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a digital subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Nancy Fielder, editor.