Alcohol warning to parents after baby deaths

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The Independent Online

Parents were today warned not to sleep with their babies after drinking alcohol following two deaths.

Three-month-old Theo Linus Frith and 16-month-old Aiden Barrios-Santana both died after sleeping in the same bed as their parents, who had been drinking, in separate incidents in Bournemouth, Dorset, earlier this year.



Jennifer North and partner, Darren Frith, were heavily intoxicated when they slept with their only child, Theo, and woke to find him dead in bed on 12 October, an inquest heard today.



Back calculations showed Miss North had up to 356mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood at 3am that morning, about four times the legal drink-drive limit.



Her partner, Mr Frith, had up to 270mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood, about three times the drink-drive limit of 80mg.



Coroner Sheriff Payne told Bournemouth, Poole and East Dorset Coroner's Court it was dangerous for a baby to sleep in its parents' bed, particularly if they had been drinking alcohol.



He read advice from the Foundation for the Study of Infant Deaths during baby Theo's inquest and said: "A key message to keep your baby safe and healthy is that the safest place for your baby to sleep - night and day - is in a crib or cot in a room with you for the first six months.



"It's especially dangerous for your baby to sleep in your bed if you or your partner are a smoker, even if you never smoke in bed or at home, have been drinking alcohol, take medication or drugs that make you drowsy, feel very tired or if your baby was premature, low birth weight or less than three months old.



"Don't forget, accidents can happen too. You might roll over in your sleep and suffocate your baby. Your baby could get caught between the wall and the bed. Your baby could roll out of your bed and be injured."



A separate inquest heard that Andrea Dunford and Paul Barrios-Santana had been drinking in moderation at her sister's wedding on 25 September.



Mr Barrios-Santana, an engineer, had also shared a marijuana cigarette before going to bed.



Their son, Aiden, had woken up and would not settle, so his mother, a day nursery manager, had taken the toddler to bed for a cuddle.



They woke to find him dead the next morning.



Mr Payne gave an open verdict in both deaths and said that no pathological evidence could be found to indicate that overlaying had happened, where either parent had accidentally suffocated them in bed.



In both cases, the cause of death was unexplained.