Whitney Dean and Zack Hudson have had a rocky start to their pregnancy so far after Zack's HIV diagnosis led to health concerns about the baby – however, the situation is set to become more complicated due to an upcoming storyline on the soap.


EastEnders has confirmed that Whitney (Shona McGarty) and one-night-stand Zack (James Farrar) will learn later this month that their baby has been diagnosed with Edwards' Syndrome.

The condition, which affects around three in every 10,000 births in the UK, gives a baby three copies of the same chromosome and can lead to health problems.

Zack and Whitney.
Zack (James Farrar) and Whitney (Shona McGarty) in EastEnders. BBC

The soap will be working closely with Antenatal Results and Choices and SOFT UK to raise awareness of Edwards' Syndrome whilst "sensitively portraying the tough decisions that prospective parents are faced with following a diagnosis".

Later this month, viewers will watch as an ultrasound scan identifies a birth defect in Whitney and Zack's baby, leading to further testing and an eventual diagnosis.

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Speaking about the storyline, executive producer Chris Clenshaw said that it was "imperative" for the team to work with charities to accurately portray the storyline.

"Shona and James’s performances have thoughtfully portrayed the realities of the diagnosis and the decision making process with compassion and understanding," he added. "We hope that this story resonates with the audience, and that we represent it as sensitively, and as accurately as possible."

What is Edwards’ Syndrome?

Edwards' Syndrome, which is also known as trisomy 18, is a rare condition that sadly proves deadly in most cases.

It is usually caused by a change in the sperm or egg prior to a baby being conceived which gives a child three copies of chromosome number 18 instead of two.

According to SOFT UK, around three in every 10,000 births in the UK are affected by Edwards' Syndrome every year.

"We provide parents with comprehensive advice and support whether they decide to end their pregnancy or to continue. We also support families whose living children have Edwards’ or Patau’s Syndrome," the charity said in a statement.

Unfortunately, most babies with Edwards' Syndrome will die before or shortly after being born, according to the NHS, while only 13 in 100 will live past their first birthday.

There are several different types of Edwards' Syndrome, the one with the most severe symptoms being Full Edwards' Syndrome, where an extra chromosome is present in all cells.

A child with Mosaic Edwards' syndrome has an extra chromosome in just some cells, which can lead to milder symptoms of the condition and means that the child may live to adulthood. Meanwhile, Partial Edwards' syndrome means that there is just a section of the extra chromosome in the baby's cells and how affected the child is depends on which part of chromosome 18 is present.

Pregnant women are offered screening for Edwards' Syndrome between 10 and 14 weeks of pregnancy, with the test determining the chance of their baby having Edwards' Syndrome, Down's Syndrome and/or Patau's Syndrome. According to the NHS, all babies with Edwards' Syndrome will have some level of learning disability and may also have heart, respiratory, kidney or gastrointestinal conditions.

You can read more about Edwards' Syndrome on the NHS website, or visit SOFT UK and Antenatal Results and Choices for help and support.

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