Tragic deaths show babies’ fragility 20 July 2012
They are tragedies that could have happened to any family. The deaths of three much-loved and well-cared-for Wellington babies have been made public by a coroner to illustrate how vulnerable infants are. All three suffocated in their sleep. Te Atirau Matehaere Hamiora Gerrard, 6 months, died while sleeping on his stomach, alone in his mother’s bed. Ronon John Dittmer-Lokes died while sleeping on a bassinet mattress in a stroller. The 3-month-old suffocated after rolling on to his stomach. Tusitala-John Savaii-Taatiti, 9 months, died after his father fell asleep on a couch while holding him. The father woke to find his baby wedged in the back of the couch. Attempts by the parents and paramedics to bring the baby boys back to life were futile. Coroner Ian Smith recommended Well Child providers such as Plunket and Tamariki Ora engage with expectant mothers from about week 36 of their pregnancies to ensure they and their families are educated on safe sleeping practices.