Baby dies after being left alone while mum smokes cannabis

A three-month-old baby boy died after being left alone overnight while his mother smoked cannabis, a serious case review has found.

Social services dealt repeatedly with the child’s family before his death but closed the case after the woman said she had stopped using drugs.

A police investigation into potential neglect is currently ongoing. The review found the level of support provided to the family was “a proportionate response”.

The baby, who can be identified only as Child E, suffered a cardiac arrest in September 2017 after being found unresponsive with a blanket over his head at a home in Rochdale.

His mother, who also cannot be named, subsequently told police she had been using cannabis on the night before his death and had left the house between 01:00 and 02:00 BST to go to a local garage. The baby had been left lying in his pram for 12 hours without being checked.

Substance misuse

A serious case review by the Rochdale Borough Safeguarding Children Board found the family had interacted with police and health and social care workers repeatedly in the months before his death.

An anonymous referral made to Children’s Social Care also raised concerns about the mother’s substance misuse and the state of the home in which the family were living, the Board found.

The Board’s report said the mother “reported cannabis to be her drug of choice and cocaine less frequently.”

“It is true that many parents’ use of drugs does not present a risk of harm to their children. It is also true that many parents who use drugs have chaotic and unpredictable lifestyles that do impact on their ability to maintain stability and safe parenting of their children,” it said.

Despite this, the case was closed after the mother said she had stopped using drugs.


“This review therefore begs the question about how well professionals can be reassured that substance misuse that impacts on parenting is ever really resolved or whether some level of risk will always remain,” the report said.

It also found that the mother had been given detailed advice on safe sleeping guidelines for babies on three occasions.

“The learning from this review will be important to all agencies and will result in changes to procedures in line with the recommendations,” said the Board’s independent chair, Jane Booth.

Source: 24th October 2018

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