Two Years Old Denaby Child Drank Mother’s Medicine – Died From Opium Poisoning

June 1947

South Yorkshire Times June 7, 1947

Please note that the Family name has been changed

Died From Opium Poisoning.
Two Years Old Denaby Child Drank Mother’s Medicine.

“It is easy to point out afterwards how dangerous it is to leave anything such as this within reach of a child, but it should be a warning,” remarked Mr W. H. Carlile (Doncaster District Coroner) at a Denaby inquest yesterday on Irene Dalton, two year old child of Samuel Wilfred Dalton, miner, Blyth Street, Denaby, who died in Fullerton hospital, Denaby, on Tuesday, from the effects of drinking a large dose of cough mixture.

Drained Bottle.

While the mother was out at a shop the child took a bottle from a table and drank the contents, consisting of a mixture of laudanum, aniseed and rhubarb.

Dr Peter Milligan, pathologist Doncaster, examine the amount of laudanum taken to be 8 to 10 times the maximum dose for a child.

Recording a verdict of “accidental death,” the coroner said it was unfortunate that Mrs Dalton did not realise the danger to the child when she found that the whole of the dose contained in the bottle had been taken, but at the time the child certainly showed no signs to alarm her and it was not until some hours later that she realised the danger the child was in. She immediately went for the doctor and the child was immediately taken to hospital, but unfortunately it was too late to save the child’s life.

The mother, Nellie Dalton, said that on Monday she left her house about 5 p.m. and was absent 3 to 5 minutes. She was in the habit of taking a medicine consisting of laudanum, aniseed and rhubarb, which she had in a mixture of three pennyworth each at a time. She suffered from a cough and eased it with the mixture. The bottle was left on the kitchen table, at the back, about 2 feet from the edge. She took about 10 drops in a drop of water, and there was a note that it was dangerous to exceed the stated dose. There was a cork in the bottle when she left it. When she returned she noticed that the bottle was empty, and enquired of a neighbour, Mrs Goddard, whether she had seen any of the children with the bottle. Mrs Goddard said that she had seen Irene with it. Irene was her normal self

The Coroner: Did it not occur to you to get some help? – No. Not with her looking so well, I thought it had not affected her.

When did you first notice anything wrong with her? – She went to bed at 9 o’clock, and she was all right and going to bed. I laid her down to sleep and she showed no signs of being particularly sleepy.

The Coroner: There was nothing to indicate at that time that she was anything but her normal self? – No

Mrs Dalton said that at 10:45 p.m. Irene seemed very difficult in her briefing. Witness could not wake her. She went for Dr Clark who took the child immediately to Fullerton hospital. Irene died the following day at 3 a.m.

The Coroner: What I do not understand is that you knew it contained laudanum and there was far more in the bottle then you were accustomed to take; did it not strike you that it would have been better to get the doctors straightaway? – I did not know, with her going out to play straightaway.

The Coroner: I do not know but it might have saved the child’s life.