Cambridge baby boy died of natural causes in 1975, inquest finds

baby inquest Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The coroner said Anastasia Roche suffered psychological harm which she has carried with her to the present day after her son's death

A premature baby boy whose mother has fought for a hearing since his death 45 years ago died of natural causes, an inquest has found.

James Madden-Cansdale was a day old when he died on 5 December 1975 at the former maternity hospital in Cambridge.

His mother Anastasia Roche fell asleep after a difficult labour only to be told he had died when she woke up.

The inquest in Huntingdon heard "paternalistic" doctors refused to show her James' post-mortem examination.

The case was referred to the coroner's office two years ago.

Image copyright Anastasia Roche
Image caption Anastasia Roche, pictured in the 1970s, was 21 when her son James died

James was born at 36 weeks weighing 2.89kg (6lb) at the former Mill Road Maternity Hospital.

Ms Roche, now 65 and from Newmarket, said in a statement she lost a lot of blood and only saw her "healthy" son briefly before she fell asleep, the inquest heard.

The inquest heard there was a "much more paternalistic attitude" to showing people post-mortem reports in 1975 and she was denied access to it.

Ms Roche had to wait 40 years before she was shown the results.

Image copyright Google
Image caption James was born at the former Mill Road Maternity Hospital in Cambridge

The inquest was "hampered severely" because "James's records were destroyed 25 years after he was born, in accordance with trust policy", according to assistant coroner Rosamund Rhodes-Kemp.

But she had access to Ms Roche's GP notes, her hospital notes, the post-mortem report and the complaints file.

Ms Rhodes-Kemp said the post-mortem exam showed James "had a lung condition known to affect particularly premature babies" and he also had an infection.

She concluded he died of natural causes.

Ms Roche, who had been too ill to attend her son's funeral, had also been unaware of where he was buried.

Ms Rhodes-Kemp said the coroner's service had managed to locate his burial site, and she offered her "deepest condolences" to Ms Roche.

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