The baby boy, named Bryan, was born on Christmas Day at Maggiore di Parma hospital to a 34-year-old Italian woman, Monica, and her Albanian husband, Hector, La Repubblica reported.
There were no complications with the birth and the child was otherwise born healthy apart from the malformation of the lower legs.
The baby was discharged a few days after but his parents, who have another boy of seven years old, are planning to take legal action after both a private gynaecologist and public health medics failed to detect the malformation during the woman’s pregnancy.
“Until December 25th, everything had been going fine,” the Ferrara-based lawyer Silvia Gamberoni told La Repubblica.
“Then the baby was born with this severe malformation, without it ever emerging from any of the scans done.”
For the first five months of her pregnancy the woman was under the care of a private gynaecologist in Parma, before going for scans at a public healthcare clinic, where the last ultrasound was carried out in November.
“The findings of this scan were normal, other tests were carried out in hospital,” the lawyer added.
A growth abnormality is usually detected by a fetal morphology, or anomaly scan, which is carried out between the 19th and 21st week of pregnancy, Paolo Volpe, president of the Italian Society of Obstetric Ultrasonography and Gynaecology, told La Repubblica.
Gamberoni said investigations are underway to ascertain who is responsible for the error, which could involve a number of medics.
“Formal notices have been sent all parties concerned – the private doctor in Parma, the local health clinic where tests were carried out, the local health authority and the hospital.”
Italy’s maternity care is already under pressure amid an investigation into the deaths of five women during childbirth between December 25th and December 31st.
While all appeared to have explicable causes, their concentration over the holiday period has raised questions over whether hospital staffing may have been a factor and also over whether older mothers-to-be are being sufficiently monitored for warning signs of potentially fatal conditions.