Mystery surrounds tragic death of Burnley baby: inquest

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AN inquest has failed to discover how a seemingly healthy baby girl died.

Four-month-old Annie-May Farrar was rushed by ambulance to the Royal Blackburn Hospital on August 10th last year after her mother noticed there was something wrong at their home in Pine Street, Burnley.

Sadly, Annie-May died 20 to 30 minutes after arrival after attempts to resuscitate her failed.

An inquest at Burnley Coroner’s Court heard from parents Mr Anthony Hirst and Miss Laura Farrar who revealed Annie-May had not suffered any health problems. She was feeding well and putting on weight.

On the night in question, the couple had been out for the evening and returned at 2 a.m. The baby-sitter had not reported any serious problems but at 6-10 a.m, when Laura checked Annie-May, she found she was not moving and called an ambulance.

Pathologist Dr Stefania Bitetti, from the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital, who carried out the post-mortem examination, gave evidence at the hearing.

Despite extensive tests, Dr Bitetti could not offer a cause of death.

She said: “We carried out an X-ray which discovered no form of injury, while analysis of her organs showed they were normal. Metabolic studies were negative and a microbiology investigation ruled out any serious infection.

“Histology evidence showed there was very mild inflammation of the lungs which was not significant and would not have caused death. The cause of death is unascertained.”

Pressed by the Deputy Coroner for East Lancashire Mr Mark Williams, Dr Bitetti said Sudden Infant Death Syndrome is sometimes used to explain such deaths.

She added: “Environmental factors such as smoking in the home or smoking during pregnancy may be explanations but medical science just does not know at this stage.

“Sudden Infant Death Syndrome is the second most common cause of death, after infection, in children under one-year-old.”

Deputy Coroner Mr Williams offered his condolences to the family describing it as “a tragedy”.

Recording a verdict of natural causes he said: “Sadly there is no explanation medical science can offer us at this time. It is a tragedy and I pass on my condolences.”