A CORONER has criticised social services after a sleeping father accidentally smothered his newborn baby.
A Huddersfield inquest heard how Andrew Greenoff, of Hope Street, Milnsbridge, fell asleep in bed with baby girl Mia Tessa Greenoff–Davies lying on his chest.
When the baby’s mother, Nicola Davies, woke up, she saw her four-week-old child lying with her head facing down into the pillow.
When she picked her up she noticed a trickle of blood was running down baby Mia’s face.
Mia was rushed to hospital but died later died that day, on July 19 last year.
The inquest heard how Mia’s parents were both heroin addicts and had been prescribed methadone to help them kick the habit.
They were being closely monitored and medical staff were concerned whether or not the couple would be able to look after the baby properly.
Nicola’s other two children by another father are being looked after by her aunt, after Nicola feared her drug habit was spiralling out of control.
When Nicola fell pregnant again, with Mia, she was closely monitored by specialist drug liaison midwife Janet Woodhouse.
Ms Woodhouse told the inquest concerns had been raised by staff at the hospital where the mother and baby were being cared for after the premature birth.
She said: “Both Nicola and Andrew were not always aware of the baby’s needs.
“There were issues around co-sleeping in the hospital as Andrew did once fall asleep face-to-face with the baby on his chest.”
Ms Woodhouse said hospital staff couldn’t wake Mia’s father, Andrew, and thought the methadone might be making him unresponsive.
He was told never again to sleep with the baby in this way.
Coroner Roger Whittaker asked Catherine Harrison, community manager for Kirklees Council, why Mia had been allowed to go home with her parents.
Health staff had suggested Nicola and her baby might benefit from a £23,000 12-week mother and baby course in Leeds to assess their needs day and night.
But Ms Harrison said it was about “a balance of risk” and it was decided the couple would be able to cope with Mia.
She said it was arranged that a health professional would call at the house to check up on them each day.
Coroner Roger Whittaker recorded a verdict of accidental death from asphyxia.
He said Andrew had accepted that Mia had gone to sleep on his chest and that he had intended to put her in the Moses basket when she had “settled down” after feeding her.
Mr Whittaker added: “For whatever reason, he fell asleep.
“All parents are tired when they first have a baby.
“That was one of the reasons Andrew had offered to help feed the baby that morning.”
Mr Whittaker told the inquest he was concerned community services had ignored concerns raised by the specialist drug liaison midwife.
He said: “Having heard the evidence this morning, the views of a very well-experienced drug liaison midwife, Janet Woodhouse, were over-ruled and the child was allowed to return home with her parents.
“I think even the parents in hindsight would have accepted one of the parenting workshops.”
Mr Whittaker said he was “extremely surprised” that the Mia had been allowed to return home with her parents.
He said: “I shall be writing to the local authority to point out this particular problem and ask them to deal with the issues in a different way.”
Mr Whittaker recorded a verdict of accidental death.
He said: “The circumstances of Mia’s death lead me to only one conclusion.
“Both parents were doing the best they could but sadly this tragic accident caused the baby’s death.”
A spokesman for Kirklees Council said after the inquest: “The sympathies of all involved in this sad case are with the family at this time.
“This was an extremely sad care in which a four-week-old girl died as a result of co-sleeping with her father.
“As the Serious Case Review confirms, there was no evidence of physical injury, systematic neglect or of the professionals involved showing a lack of due care and concern with regard to protective arrangements.
“Both parents were at the time of the baby’s birth not using heroin but following a methadone programme under medical supervision.
“The parents were working with all professionals and the baby was subject to a multi-agency Child Protection plan, which included daily visits by professionals to the family home, and that between the date of discharge from hospital and her death, professionals did not express any concerns about either parents’ ability to care for the baby.
“The Serious Case Review highlights that co-sleeping as a potential risk had been identified and the parents had been advised accordingly.
“Tragically, the little girl died as the result of a single incident which could only have been avoided by continuous monitoring of the family or the child’s removal from her parents’ care.”