A month-old baby who slept with her parents was found unresponsive hours later with vomit residue on her face and foam in her mouth.
The baby was rushed to Khoo Teck Puat General Hospital, but was declared dead soon after. The tragedy happened on New Year’s Day this year.
In the inquest into the child’s death, State Coroner Marvin Bay urged parents to be mindful of the possible hazards when sharing their bed with their young ones.
To cut the risk of accidental smothering, he said infants should be placed in their own cots.
“While the exact circumstances of the baby’s sad demise cannot be clinically ascertained, there are real potential hazards inherent in the practice of very young infants sharing their beds with one or both parents, or other caregivers, which parents should be mindful of,” he said.
Investigations showed that at 8am on Jan 1, the baby’s mother, a 31-year-old housewife, took the crying child from her cot to her bed to breastfeed her.
The baby did not burp afterwards despite the mother’s efforts. Burping is one way parents can help babies get rid of gas that may be trapped in the gastrointestinal system.
At noon, the 33-year-old self-employed father woke up to prepare for Friday prayers. He did not notice anything amiss.
When he was on his way out, he woke his wife up to say he was leaving. His wife then saw that the bed area where the baby slept was wet.
On checking, her husband realised that there was vomit residue on the baby’s face, and foam in and around her mouth.
She was not breathing, and despite attempts to rouse her, she remained unresponsive.
He shouted for his wife to call emergency services as he tried to resuscitate her. The couple has three other children.
In her report, pathologist Belinda Lee stated that since the baby was co-sleeping with her parents, it is not possible to rule out she had been accidentally suffocated by a pillow, bed sheet or a body part of a parent.
But it was also not possible to rule out that her death was related to sudden death infant syndrome (Sids).
This affects children below a year in age, and usually occurs during sleep. The exact cause of Sids is unknown.
KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital records showed that the baby was premature and delivered after an emergency caesarean section at 36 weeks. But she was born healthy.