Eight-month-old may have died from overheating

The inquest took place at Portsmouth Guidhall
The inquest took place at Portsmouth Guidhall
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  • Inquest hears eight-month-old Max was surrounded by three blankets
  • Coroner records open conclusion
  • No signs of injury or illness that caused death
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PARENTS have been warned about keeping babies safe while they are sleeping after the death of an eight-month-old boy.

Max Potter died at his home in Fareham Road, Gosport, on January 26 last year.

There’s the possibility that the way he was wrapped up and kept in an overheated room caused his death.

Coroner David Horsley

While an inquest into the death recorded an open conclusion, the coroner said there was ‘the possibility the way he was wrapped up and kept in an overheated room caused his death.’

The inquest heard Max’s mum Zenaca Potter, then 19, and her partner Ashley Unwin, then 28, had folded over a red fleece blanket and placed it in his cot for him to lay on face down.

They then wrapped a blanket around him and had a third blanket in the cot to cushion his head, as well as having the heating on in the house.

All three fell asleep at around midday before Mr Unwin woke up as he felt hot at around 4.15pm, and went to check on Max, to find he was not breathing.

Detective Sergeant Larry Grist, of Hampshire Constabulary, gave evidence based on his interview with Mr Unwin.

He said: ‘A 999 call was made on a passer-by’s phone and until an ambulance arrive Ashley carried out CPR on Max.’

He was taken to Queen Alexandra Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

A post mortem found there were no signs of infection, congenital defects, disease, malnutrition or injury that could have led to his death.

Pathologist Debbie Cook explained babies cannot sweat so it is harder for heat to escape the body, however signs of overheating are hard to find in examinations.

Coroner David Horsley said: ‘There’s the possibility that the way he was wrapped up and kept in an overheated room caused his death.

‘But the evidence is not there to support it conclusively... therefore I must give an open conclusion.

‘I would urge parents to make sure they are extra careful when caring for young babies.’

Baby safe-sleeping tips

A COMMUNITY health trust has given advice on how to keep your baby safe when sleeping.

Melanie Ellard, area team leader for the Portsmouth health visiting service, for Solent NHS Trust, said:

- Place your baby on its back to sleep.

- Ensure your baby is not overdressed or covered with too much bedding (no more than you would use).

- Ensure the baby’s head is uncovered.

- Ensure the room is not too hot (16-20 degrees is ideal).