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Cannabis smoking mum Belfast mum woke to find baby dead in her arms

By Victoria O'Hara

Published 18/05/2016

Shanna Hunte
Shanna Hunte
Her former partner Ryan McLaughlin
Doctor Claire Murray

A mother smoked cannabis just hours before she fell asleep while breastfeeding her baby - only to waken to find her newborn lifeless, an inquest was told.

Kiya Nadine Hunte was two weeks old when her parents, who were sleeping in the same bed as her, woke to find her unresponsive at their Dunmurry home in May 2014.

At an inquest yesterday in Belfast her mother Shanna Hunte and former partner Ryan McLaughlin said they had smoked cannabis at around 12.30am before going to bed at their Glasvey Rise home.

Kiya was breastfed by her mum at around 2.30am on May 9 and she fell asleep with the baby in her arms in their bedroom.

At around 5am she woke to find Kiya still in her arms, but "cold and lifeless".

A small amount of blood was also found around the baby's mouth.

Despite being rushed to hospital and attempts by paramedics and the doctors at the Royal Victoria Hospital for Sick Children, she was pronounced dead at 5.50am.

In a statement to police Mr McLaughlin said he woke up to hear Ms Hunte screaming: "There is something wrong with Kiya."

They dialled 999, and in a statement read to the coroner a paramedic said that when he arrived at the house the baby was showing "no signs of life".

But they immediately started CPR and the paramedic recalled how the mother sat in the ambulance with her head in her hands saying: "It was my fault."

Dr Claire Murray, who was the doctor on call at the hospital, said they attempted to resuscitate Kiya, but after 20 minutes were unsuccessful.

Following the baby's death the parents were interviewed by police officers from the child abuse investigation unit in Lisburn.

Cannabis was also discovered in the attic of the house.

Dr Claire Thornton, a pathologist who carried out the autopsy, warned of the dangers of co-sleeping with babies combined with either exhaustion, drinking alcohol, smoking or taking drugs.

She said research had shown that smoking raised the risk of such sudden deaths by 8%.

If co-sleeping and smoking, the risk is 30 times greater, and with alcohol there is a 90 times greater risk. The baby had been well, but was "small and slight" and had failed to regain her birth weight.

The doctor said that there were no signs of a bacterial infection and the toxicology screening was negative.

The cause of death was sudden unexplained death in infancy associated with co-sleeping. Coroner Suzanne Anderson praised the couple for their honesty, but said there were lessons to be learned.

Ms Anderson offered her deepest condolences to the parents and said she hoped this tragedy would warn others of the dangers of co-sleeping with babies, smoking or taking alcohol.

"These young parents have paid a terrible price," she said.

She added she hoped it "will spare another family from a similar tragedy".

Belfast Telegraph

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