Northampton Coroner Anne Pember warns parents against letting their young children sleep with them in bed. The warning comes after 11-week-old Darcie-Rose Souster from Aldsworth Close, Wellingborough in the UK died due to lack of oxygen while sleeping on her father's arm.

Pember is firm in her belief that it is very essential to let the public know that it is unsafe to sleep with a baby, especially young children.

In his statement, the baby's father Justin Souster recounted that he, his wife Nicola and Darcie-Rose woke up at around 1:30 a.m. when one of their other children climbed up on the bed to sleep with them.

Following a feeding session, Justin Souster recalled how they prepared to sleep. He said that the baby was lying down between him and his other child, and that Darcie-Rose's head was on top of his left forearm. His wife was sleeping on the far side of the bed.

When Justin Souster woke up at around 5:00 a.m., he said he could not feel his arm as it had turned numb. When he moved his arm, he saw Darcie-Rose flopped back and was not breathing.

Nicola Souster tried to revive her baby while waiting for the ambulance to arrive. Darcie-Rose was brought to the Northampton General Hospital within 10 minutes but she was pronounced dead on arrival.

"Regrettably she was in an unsafe position in her parents' bed with another little child," said Pember. She added that she accepts the cause of death as positional asphyxiation in relation to family members sleeping together in bed, also known as co-sleeping.

Upon postmortem investigation, Dr. Roger Malcomson, a pediatric pathologist, found that Darcie-Rose had blood in her lungs and that she exhibited other signs of asphyxia or suffocation. He further confirmed that there were no incredulous conditions noted in the death.

Nonetheless, he said that the way the baby was put to bed had increased the likelihood of death as it was an "unsafe sleeping environment." With this, he cannot conclude that the cause of death was simply Sudden Infant Death (SID) syndrome.

"There's a five-fold risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome in such circumstances," Malcolmson said. "In the circumstances of this case it precludes the use of SID as a potential cause of death." 

Nicola Souster challenged Malcomson's evidence in court, saying it looked "circumstantial." She wondered why the severe chest infection that Darcie-Rose was suffering from at the time of death was not given more investigations.

Malcomson replied to the claim saying that the postmortem examination did not suggest that there was a notable respiratory tract infection in the baby. He added that Darcie-Rose had no external injuries and was well nourished, with her height and weight within the normal range.

Photo: Kristian Mollenborg | Flickr

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