Baby death inquest latest: Doctors confirm newborn was still alive when born

A newborn baby who was wrapped in clothes and a plastic bag by his teenage mum and dumped in a wheelie bin WAS alive when he was born, doctors have confirmed.

Tuesday, 16th March 2021, 12:11 pm
Updated Tuesday, 16th March 2021, 2:06 pm
The 18-year-old, who was 15 when she gave birth to the full term baby boy at around 11.30am on August 9 2018, returned to the witness stand this morning at an inquest to determine how the infant died.
The 18-year-old, who was 15 when she gave birth to the full term baby boy at around 11.30am on August 9 2018, returned to the witness stand this morning at an inquest to determine how the infant died.

It comes after the 18-year-old, who was 15 when she gave birth in secret while babysitting, admitted she "didn't know" if the newborn was dead or alive when she gave birth at her Fylde home on August 9, 2018.

Yesterday, the teenager said she thought the infant was stillborn, but this morning admitted that she "wasn't sure". You can read yesterday's inquest report here.

Today, it has been revealed that a post-mortem examination carried out by the Home Office confirmed that the child was alive when he was born, as oxygen was found in his windpipe and lungs.

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But pathologist Dr Brian Roger's said it was impossible to determine the exact cause of the baby's death.

He said: "There was no evidence of any skin damage that you might see if the baby had died in utero prior to birth - ie a stillborn - and that was confirmed by the presence of air.

"We were left with a baby that was found apparently normal with no internal or external malformations.

"As far as I'm concerned... there are three possible scenarios in this case.

"The first is that the baby was born alive but in a very poor condition because of the nature of the birth, and therefore died shortly afterwards. It's quite possible that the baby was born in poor condition.

"The second scenario is that the baby was born in poor condition, but was still alive and breathing when wrapped in clothing and a plastic bin bag, and died purely of plastic bag suffocation.

"The third scenario is a combination of things; that the baby was born in poor condition and died due to that in connection with plastic bag suffocation."

He said it could not be determined whether the baby had indeed suffocated, as such a death would leave no physical evidence behind.

Therefore it was impossible to know whether the infant died before or after being placed in the bag.

Dr Rogers said: "With the circumstances in which the baby was found, and taking into account everything we have alluded to, I have come to the conclusion that the cause of death is unascertained."

Alder Hey Children's Hospital pathologist Dr Jo McPartland, who also carried out a post mortem, said she found no internal or external abnormalities, and that the baby was not suffering from an infection.

She found evidence of lung haemorrhages and bleeding in the lungs and brain consistent with a lack of oxygen around the time of death, however these were 'not specific' and did not necessarily point to suffocation.

She said: "The pathology cannot make a distinction between a baby dying before being placed in a plastic bag or after being placed in a plastic bag."

She agreed the cause of death was unascertained.

18-year-old admits that she "didn't know" whether her baby was dead or alive

Earlier today, the 18-year-old took to the witness stand and told the court she had wrapped the newborn in clothes and put him underneath the sink because she felt unwell and feared she would collapse on top of him.

At 12.19pm, she made a Google search for 'how to cut an umbilical cord'.

At around 12.55pm the boy she was looking after went upstairs and found her curled up on a bed surrounded by bloodstains.

She told the court she had wrapped the newborn in clothes and put him underneath the sink because she felt unwell and feared she would collapse on top of him.

At around 1pm she retrieved the baby and carried him downstairs into the kitchen, where she placed him in the middle of the kitchen table, where he was seen by the young boy.

A short time later, when the boy left the room, the girl wrapped the newborn in a plastic bag, took him outside and put him in a wheelie bin to the rear of the house.

Coroner Andrew Cousins said to her: "The difficulty I'm having here is that at 12.19pm you were able to Google how to cut an umbilical cord. You are able to move (the baby) under the sink because you were concerned that you might pass out and fall onto him.

"You're able to clean up the blood and make trips downstairs to deposit towels into the bin... there are rational explanations for those actions.

"But what I'm struggling to understand is why you have simply made the assumption that (the baby) was not alive when you placed him into the bin bag and then into the bin."

The young mum said: "I wasn't sure what was happening. I was 15, I didn't know anything about these things. He wasn't moving, he wasn't breathing. I didn't want to cause any harm.

"When I put him under the sink all I could think was I don't want to collapse on this poor child. When I was going downstairs I couldn't grip or anything. It was so hard. I wanted him to be alive but to me he wasn't, because I wasn't sure."

The coroner said: "The issue I have got to try to understand is... when you were able to use your phone, why you didn't seek medical assistance?"

The teenager said she didn't know.

She said she had no reason to suspect her baby was alive when she binned him.

The coroner said: "Is it correct that that assumption is based only on the fact that you did not see any movement from (the baby)?"

She replied: "I don't know."

She told the court yesterday that she did not check the baby's pulse.

But when Mr Cousins repeated the question this morning she replied: "I don't know."

The inquest continues...