New parents must be made aware of the dangers of unsafe sleeping practices following the tragic death of Bury baby, a coroner has said.

Area coroner for Manchester North, Catherine McKenna made the comments following an inquest into the death of Jacob Cameron-Winfield, who died at home in October 2020.

The six-month-old baby boy was pronounced dead by paramedics after being found unresponsive by his mother at around 12.30pm on October 2, 2020. 

An inquest at Rochdale Coroners' Court on Tuesday heard that the baby had been sleeping in a Moses basket before being moved into his mother’s bed after she fed him at around 8.30am that morning.

Police and ambulance service arrived at his home at around 1pm where Jacob was pronounced dead at 1.06pm.

In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, it is a requirement that all unexpected infant deaths are reported to the police and the coroner. 

Giving evidence, Home Office pathologist, Dr Charles Wilson, called the death “a tragedy” and warned that unsafe sleeping environments, such as co-sleeping in a bed with parents, can increase the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) in otherwise healthy babies.

He told the court that when a baby co-sleeps with a parent “the risk of death is increased whatever position the baby is in".

He explained that there are three main causes of SIDS when a child is left in an unsafe sleeping environment.

Risks included overheating, difficulty breathing if covered by a sleeping parent, or breathing in too much carbon dioxide if covered by a duvet or blanket.

“If there is any way that message could be spread, I think it would be a good thing,” he added.

The Lullaby Trust, which raises awareness of SIDS, says babies should always sleep on their back, on firm, flat water proof mattress that is in good condition.

Babies should sleep in a cot or Moses basket free from pillows, cot bumpers, soft toys and loose bedding.

Sandra Bruce, assistant director of early health and early years at the council, said the department raised no child protection concerns during its review of Jacob’s death and added that the local authority is working to increase awareness of safe sleeping practices to prevent future deaths.

She added: “In 2020, (Bury) had three deaths (of this nature) in quite quick succession, there was an increase during the Covid lockdown (both locally and nationally).”

She said the council is working to provide practitioners with better training about safe sleeping in order to educate parents about best practice for decreasing the risk of SIDS. 

She said: “What we know is that when your baby is grizzly at night, it is really easy to take them into bed.”

Concluding the inquest, Ms McKenna gave a narrative conclusion of Jacob’s death ruling that its cause was unascertained in the context of an unsafe sleeping environment.

She noted that Jacob had clearly been loved by his family who has provided him with a living environment “suitable for the care of young baby".

She said: “There were no concerns about [Jacob’s mother’s] ability to care for him.”

However, Ms McKenna noted that there was “an important public health message about the risk of sudden death when there is co-sleeping with infants".

She added: “It is not just about where the baby goes to sleep, its also important to consider where did the baby wake up.”