Singapore: 19-day-old baby suffocated to death while sleeping next to his father

Singapore's KK Women's and Children's Hospital believe that teaching new parents about how to take care of their newborns is very important

A 19-day-old infant died after a pillow unwittingly ended up over his head when he was sleeping next to his father. Recent reports stated that the baby died due to suffocation and the State Coroner Kamala Ponnampalam addressed the case as another unfortunate misadventure which highlights the risk of accidental suffocation arising from parents who sleep with their babies.

As per the reports, the mother of the child usually sleeps with the baby on the sofa, while the father sleeps in the master bedroom with an elder child placed in a baby cot. But on 9th June the baby was placed next to his father on the bedroom at around 7 am and it was the first time when the infant was placed beside a sleeping parent.

Newborn Baby
Newborn Baby - Representational Picture Reuters

The tragic case

When the mother placed the baby on his back next to her husband, she informed him. But the father of the baby told the coroner's court that he was too tired on June 9, 2018, and not aware of the alert. The court documents revealed that the mother took her another child to bathe and when she returned at around 8.45 am, she saw a pillow covering half of the baby's body.

She woke the father of the baby, who looked pale and was not breathing at that time. The father then performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation and called an ambulance. Even though when taken to the hospital the baby had the pulse, he died at around 2.26 am on June 10. The medical report showed the reason for death was suffocation, due to the blockage on the nose and mouth. However, it should be noted that the doctors did not find any evidence of traumatic injuries or indication of non-accidental trauma.

Classes for infant care

Singapore's KK Women's and Children's Hospital said that it would conduct classes to teach new parents how to take care of newborn babies. The parents are also asked to avoid keeping bolsters, pillows, blankets and plastics bags near the infant as such things could lead to a fatal accident. They are also asked not to sleep next to the child on the same bed and have the baby sleep in a cot.

During the recent hearing, SC Ponnampalam said, "This case is yet another unfortunate illustration of the increased risk of inadvertent suffocation resulting from co-sleeping with one's infant for however brief a time. Parents need to be vigilant and observe safe sleeping habits at all times."