A medical expert and a leading police officer have warned against having babies sleep with their parents after ten-week-old Ceri Eva Lewis, was found dead sandwiched between her mum and dad.
Ceri had been taken to bed at her home in Ravenhill Way, Luton, by her mum Shereen on June 5. In the morning the mother woke to find the babe lying on her back underneath the duvet. She was limp and unresponsive and, despite the best efforts of the parents and paramedics, nothing could be done to save her.
Dunstable Coroners Court heard on Tuesday last week that dad, Karl, went to bed at about 11pm and the mother followed an hour later taking Ceri with her and placing her between the couple.
Detective Inspector Paul Cook, of Beds Police public protection unit, told the inquest that earlier in the day the baby had been sleeping on the couch at the family’s home and had seemed fine.
He said: “They were a perfectly normal family but the sleeping arrangements were the biggest issue in this.”
Paediatric pathologist Dr Robert Malcomson said Ceri was small for her age and had suffered a small amount of haemorrhaging near the heart.
He said: “We were not able to identify an actual cause of death. One of the issues in this age group – three weeks to nine months – is if we don’t find a cause then it’s the practice of paediatric pathologists to say that it is Sudden Infant Death syndrome.
“Unfortunately we have some history here because we have to question the sleeping arrangements.
“Sleeping with parents is considered an unsafe sleeping environment. There is the possibility of a baby overheating, overlaying – which is unusual - and suffocation incurred by breathing in carbon dioxide.
“The baby was under the covers.”
He said that the cause of death was undetermined but likely to be sudden unexpected death in infancy with the unsafe sleeping environment of co-sleeping with its parents as a significant factor.
Dr Malcomson added: “Sleeping with parents is the single most frequent factor as a possible contribution to SIDs.
“Sofas are also not a good sleeping arrangement for a child who can get wedged between cushions and suffocate.”
Cororner David Morris recorded an open verdict. No members of Ceri’s family attended the inquest.