Denaby Baby’s Death – Coroner’s Advice to Parents – Provide Cots.

May 1931

Mexborough & Swinton Times, May 29, 1931

Denaby Baby’s Death.

Coroner’s Advice to Parents

Provide Cots.

At Conisboro’ on Wednesday the Doncaster District Coroner. Mr. W. H. Carlile, held an inquest on Walter John Shelton, infant son of Walter John Shelton, miner, 82, Annerley Street, Denaby Main.

The father said the child was born last Friday and took food up to Sunday morning. It then refused food and commenced crying, but later in the day went to sleep. Witness went to bed about 11.45 p.m., and about tour o’clock the next morning he was awakened by his wife and told that the child had been screaming. His wife asked him to go for her mother and the doctor. When he got back the child was dead.

Following a statement that witness had slept in the same bed as his wife and the child, the Coroner said, “I am not suggesting that anything is wrong in this case, but you ought to know that that is dangerous. There have been cases of laying on these newly-born children. It is quite an inexpensive thing to get some sort of box and make a cot. This has been pointed out many times. You cannot be too careful.”

Sarah Ann Renshaw, mother-in-law to last witness, said she was present when the child was born. The midwife attended Mrs. Shelton on Sunday morning and told witness to take the child to a doctor on Monday. The child did not look as “it should have done.” When Witness was called on Monday morning, the child “just gave one squeak and was gone.”

Margaret Ann Hadfield, 6, Strafforth Terrace, Denaby Main, a certified midwife, said everything was normal at birth. The child appeared quite well on Sunday morning. She denied that she told Mrs. Henshaw to take the child to a doctor on the following day. She was surprised when she heard the child was dead.

She agreed with the Coroner that it was best for midwives to tell parents to put newly-born children in cots or even clothes baskets.”

Dr. J. Ford said he was called to the child at 4-30 a.m. on Monday. It was dead when he arrived. There was nothing abnormal about the child’s external appearance and no signs of over-laying. He made a post-mortem examination and found the organs were healthy, but that the stomach was empty. The cause of death was debility, which prevented it from taking food. There was lack of vitality.

Recording a verdict of “Death from natural causes.” the Coroner said it was probable that the parents did not realise that medical attention was needed. He did not say that the child’s life could have been saved by a doctor, but the doctor would have made an attempt. He did not suggest there had been neglect, hut it was one of those cases which stressed the necessity for medical aid at childbirth. The Coroner also referred to the dangers of parents sleeping with newly-born children.