Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Portsmouth parents 'not warned about co-sleeping baby risk'

Queen Alexandra Hospital Image copyright PA
Image caption Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust said it gave safe sleeping advice to all new parents

A mother whose baby died while they slept on a sofa was not given proper health advice about the dangers of co-sleeping, a coroner has said.

Two-month-old Ezra Boulton was found dead by his father at the family home in Portsmouth in May 2018.

The death was a result of co-sleeping, possibly "influenced by alcohol consumption", an inquest heard.

Portsmouth assistant coroner Samantha Marsh said the couple were not told about safe sleeping by midwives.

In a Prevention of Future Deaths report, she said the parents were encouraged to leave the hospital "fairly rapidly" after the birth.

She said: "The family did not recall being given any information directly on safe sleeping, either at antenatal appointments or at a post-natal stage from any midwife or health visitor.

"Any information they were given was provided almost as an afterthought and given in the form of a leaflet which it was suggested that they read."

The first health visitor appointment was about seven weeks after the birth, she added.

Ezra was found dead on 20 May, a few hours after falling asleep with his mother who had been consuming alcohol "throughout the day", the inquest previously heard.

Ms Marsh concluded: "I believe that making safe sleeping information readily available to all parents at an early stage may significantly reduce the risk of future infant deaths."

Parent charity The National Childbirth Trust recommends parents do not fall asleep on a sofa or chair with their baby and says the safest place for babies to sleep in their first six months is in a Moses basket or cot.

After the hearing, Dr John Knighton, Medical Director at Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust, offered his condolences to the family and added: "We follow national guidance and are continuously working to improve our continuity of maternity care."

Dr Knighton said the trust was working to improve the continuity of the person caring for women during and after pregnancy.

"Before discharge our midwives must complete a checklist that includes confirming that safe sleeping advice has been provided," he added.

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