AN INQUEST has ruled that the death of a well-loved and cared-for baby was down to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.

Valerie Jo Crankshaw was taken to hospital after being found in her cot not breathing and with watery blood around her by her parents on April 18, less than a month after being born prematurely on March 1.

The inquest at Accrington Town Hall heard that despite the efforts of parents Holly and Callum along with neighbour Michael Berry and an ambulance team to resuscitate baby Valerie, she was sadly pronounced dead at Royal Blackburn Hospital just after 1.30pm on April 18.

Coroner Dr James Adeley said: “There isn’t any evidence to suggest that more visits from healthcare workers would have made any difference.

“Everybody is trying their best but it’s not perfect, it is about trying to minimise the risk.”

Witnesses confirmed that though baby Valerie had been born nearly seven weeks premature and needed to be cared for at Burnley General Hospital during her first few weeks, all evidence showed that she was an extremely well-loved and cared-for baby and that the tragedy could not have been foreseen or prevented.

Giving evidence to the inquest by phone, consultant paediatric pathologist Dr Daniel Hurrell said that there was no evidence of congenital abnormality, infection or injury.

Valerie had also tested negative for coronavirus.

Dr Hurrell said: “By definition it’s the unexpected death of a child under the age of one, while sleeping in its own cot.

“In other words, we don’t know what causes the death of these babies but it is ruled as a natural cause of death.”

Dr Hurrell said that there was no evidence at all of ‘overlay’ which occurs when babies are accidentally suffocated while sleeping with parents or bound too tightly.

Instead, the blocking of airways was consistent with Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.

Due to the issue having been raised, Dr Adeley warned that, though not the cause of Valerie’s death, parents should not sleep with young babies as this can be extremely dangerous.

Dr Hurrell’s evidence was supported by Dr Anshuman Paria, a paediatric consultant.

He said that though Valerie had had to be taken care of in hospital for the earliest weeks of her life after her premature birth it was better to have discharged her to the family's Goodshaw home at the time they did.

He said: “In general she was showing a good level of respiratory health, so we felt comfortable discharging her.”

Explaining why they preferred not to keep babies in hospital too long he added: “There is always a higher risk of infection in hospitals than at home.”

This was especially acute with the onset of the coronavirus pandemic shortly after Valerie’s birth.

Detective Inspector Martin Melvin, whose role is to respond to child deaths as a Lancashire Police duty detective inspector, confirmed that he and his team had found no sign of trauma to Valerie’s body and no evidence of overlay.

He said: “We had a good look and we talked about it but there was no evidence that Valerie was anything other than well taken care of.”

Dr Adeley also confirmed that, though home visits from health workers had been restricted by the pandemic, there was nothing to suggest that they could have prevented the tragedy that occurred.