A delicate medical storyline is currently airing with Whitney Dean's pregnancy in EastEnders.


In upcoming scenes, Whitney (Shona McGarty) and Zack Hudson (James Farrar) will face a new challenge when their baby is diagnosed with a rare condition known as Edwards' syndrome.

Whitney decided to keep the baby following her brief fling with Zack, planning on raising her child with the help of her best friend Chelsea Fox (Zaraah Abrahams).

In new episodes, Whitney and Zack will be brought closer together by the baby's illness which, sadly, could affect their life expectancy.

What is Edwards' syndrome?

A rare condition affecting three in every 10,000 births in the UK, Edwards' syndrome is diagnosed when a baby has three copies of chromosome number 18 instead of two.

According to the NHS, this change usually happens by chance, often because of an alteration in the sperm or egg before a baby is conceived.

There are three types of Edwards' syndrome depending on whether the baby has an extra chromosome 18 in all cells (full), an extra chromosome 18 in some cells (mosaic) or only a section of the extra chromosome 18 in their cells (partial).

The most common type is the full Edwards' syndrome, while the mosaic Edwards' syndrome affects 1 in 20 babies diagnosed with the condition and the partial Edwards' syndrome only 1 in 100.

The type of Edwards' syndrome determines how long the baby can live. Having full Edwards' syndrome means the baby is very likely to die before they are born.

Babies with a mosaic condition can have milder symptoms according to which cells contain the extra chromosome. Those who are born alive can live at least a year and may live to adulthood.

With the partial type, the effects are related to which part of the chromosome 18 is present in the cells.

There is no cure for Edwards' syndrome. The condition is connected to health problems that can vary, but usually include a low birth weight and a range of physical symptoms. Those diagnosed with Edwards' syndrome may also have heart, respiratory, kidney or gastrointestinal conditions.

What will happen to Whitney Dean’s baby in EastEnders?

Shona McGarty as Whitney Dean and James Farrar as Zack Hudson in EastEnders.
Whitney and Zack will get closer as they face a heartbreaking diagnosis for their baby. BBC/Jack Barnes/Kieron McCarron

Recently, Whitney was told that her baby has omphalocele, a condition that causes organs to grow outside of the body, and may not survive. EastEnders has confirmed that, after further tests, the baby will be diagnosed with Edwards' syndrome.

Prior to the sad news, Whitney was having a hard time with her pregnancy due to Zack's flakey behaviour. Dealing with his own health issues following his HIV diagnosis, Zack has made sure to be involved from afar, asking Kat Slater (Jessie Wallace) to deliver a new pram he had bought for Whitney.

But their baby's health could prove crucial to bringing them together as they navigate parenthood and support each other.

The soap has been 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".

"Shona and James’s performances have thoughtfully portrayed the realities of the diagnosis and the decision making process with compassion and understanding," EastEnders executive producer Chris Clenshaw said.

"We hope that this story resonates with the audience, and that we represent it as sensitively, and as accurately as possible."

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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