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Tuesday, 10 October, 2000, 14:50 GMT 15:50 UK
Baby dies 'under parents'
Department of Health
The Department of Health has been asked to ensure hospitals learn from the case
A hospital in Yorkshire has been criticised after a two-month old baby died while sleeping with her parents.

Chelsea Brown suffocated after becoming trapped underneath her mother.

Both parents had been sleeping on a single bed in the same ward at St Luke's Hospital, in Bradford.

Her father had picked Chelsea up to comfort her in the early hours of 26 May but she became trapped after he dozed off.

An inquest into the infant's death was told on Tuesday that she was later found by a nurse and was "pale white".

Despite attempts to resuscitate her, Chelsea was pronounced dead later that morning.

Bradford coroner Roger Whittaker said he was "astounded" that Chelsea's two parents had been allowed to sleep on a single mattress in the same room as her.

The hospital has since changed its policy and will now only allow one parent to sleep in the room. It also insists that under no circumstances should they sleep in the same bed with the child.

Mr Whittaker told the hearing: "As a result of this tragedy the policy with regard to how and when parents can stay with children has been reviewed.

"I am astounded that this had been allowed before."

Mr Whittaker said he had come across many cases where babies had died after becoming trapped underneath sleeping parents.

But he added: "I am surprised that it has been allowed in a hospital."

Chelsea had been taken to the hospital suffering from a chest infection. The inquest was told that the parents were given a 3ft wide single mattress to put on the floor so they could sleep near her.

Chelsea's father, Mark Brown, told the inquest he had picked her up after hearing her coughing.

"I put my arm around her and at that point I must have nodded off," he told the court.

"I woke up and the television in the room was still on. A nurse came in and asked where Chelsea was. I picked her up and she was white."

Mr Whittaker said Chelsea's death could have been "wholly preventable".

He welcomed the change in policy at the hospital but said he would be writing to the Department of Health to recommend that that changes were adopted across the country.

He said that would enable something good to come from the tragic death.

He recorded a verdict of accidental death.

Speaking outside the court 17-year-old Kelly Rusling, Chelsea's mother, said she was upset it had taken this tragedy to open the hospital's eyes.

She and her partner Mark are expecting their second child early next year.

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