Edward Thomas made the comments following an inquest on Wednesday into the tragic cot death of Eileen Hanrahan, who died at Enfield’s Chase Farm Hospital on April 1.
Baby Eileen was rushed to hospital after being found by her parents, James and Theresa, in their caravan in Wharf Road, Wormley. The couple, who have four other children, had celebrated the birth of their daughter earlier in the evening with friends and family.
The infant was sleeping on a cushion on her parents’ bed at the time she died.
ecording a narrative verdict of sudden and unexplained death in infancy, Herts coroner Mr Thomas said he hoped better understanding of current national guidelines from the Department of Health and other bodies would help prevent further deaths.
“I cannot imagine how awful it must have been for you to find Eileen and that memory will never leave you,” he told the Hanrahans. “It is obvious that she was very well cared for and loved by her parents and family.
“There is evidence to suggest that when an infant dies from sudden infant death syndrome sharing a bed with parents can be a linking factor.
“In this case it seems this wasn’t something that happened regularly – on the whole Eileen slept in her own cot. I hope that by increasing understanding of this evidence we can reduce the number of cot deaths.”
The court in Hatfield heard how, on the night Eileen died, Mr and Mrs Hanrahan had given their newborn daughter a bottle and put her to bed on a pillow with a blanket, before falling asleep themselves.
In a statement, Mr Hanrahan explained how when he woke up he looked at Eileen and realised something was wrong. Paramedics and doctors tried to resuscitate the baby, but were unable to do so.
A health visitor told the court that national guidelines suggest parents put their babies to sleep on their backs, refrain from smoking and advise that very young children always sleep separately from their parents.
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