No neglect in well wrapped baby death

Last updated 17:44 11/09/2012

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A baby who was wrapped in a fleece blanket, placed on top of an electric blanket and tucked under two duvets probably died from a mix of dehydration and pneumonia, a coroner has found.

Majesty Kahurawhiti Crystal Kainuku Toki was just six weeks old when she took her last breaths in her mum’s bed at their Titahi Bay home last October.

A day before she died, she was seen by their family GP as her mother Tewinia Toki was worried about a cough that had just developed.

GP Rochelle Wilson gave baby Majesty the all clear and suggested the head of her cot be raised to help with coughing at night.

In a report to Wellington coroner Garry Evans, Dr Wilson described Majesty as a peaceful baby with no coughing.

‘‘Lungs clear, nil added sounds. Can’t be ill.’’

Evans said in a written decision released today, that it was difficult to pinpoint the exact cause of the sudden and unexpected death.

However, there were several contributing factors including sharing a bed with an adult and sleeping on an electric blanket switched to level two out of three heat settings.

An autopsy revealed she had a respiratory tract infection and pneumonia.

Although her temperature wasn’t taken, she was wet with sweat and her organs were slightly dehydrated.

There was no indication that she died from an intentional injury or intentional omission of care, perinatal pathologist Dr Jane Zuccollo said.

Baby Majesty was breastfed from birth and slept in a cot in her mother’s bedroom.

She would usually wake at 6am and be fed in her mother’s bed, where they would both fall asleep for a couple more hours.

A day before the tragic death, Toki started feeding her daughter formula as she was concerned she was hungry and crying a lot.

During the day she was given four 250ml bottles, of which she drank at least half.

She had another bottle just after midnight on October 25 before she was put to sleep in her cot.

She woke in the early hours of the morning and was breastfed for about half an hour. The pair fell back to sleep.

At about 7.30am Toki got up to let her sister in the house and went back to sleep next to baby Majesty.

She woke an hour later and left the bedroom for five minutes and returned to find baby Majesty in the same position.

She picked her up and noticed her hair was wet and that her body was stiff.

‘‘Tewinia realised baby Majesty had died,’’ Evans said.

‘‘She began screaming and then dialled 111.’’

Ambulance staff arrived but there was nothing they could do.

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Evans said though baby Majesty’s was  a ‘‘much loved and very well cared for’’, she was put to sleep in an unsafe environment.

‘‘Her parents were not neglectful. They were simply unaware of the risks in the environment in which Majesty was put down to sleep before she died.’’

- Stuff

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