Mother accidentally smothers suckling baby

Dec. 2, 2009 at 6:59 PM

LONDON, Dec. 2 (UPI) -- A mother may have fallen asleep while breastfeeding and accidentally smothered her suckling infant aboard a flight from Washington to Kuwait, police say.

Crew on the United Airlines flight heard the 29-year-old mother's screams after she had woken, the Uxbridge Gazette said Wednesday.

The flight was diverted to Heathrow Airport Nov. 24, and the infant was pronounced dead at Hillingdon Hospital at 10:35 a.m. local time.

"The death is being treated as unexplained and the child abuse investigation team is investigating the circumstances," a spokesman from Scotland Yard said. "A post-mortem examination took place on Nov. 27 at Great Ormond Street Hospital and we're awaiting the results."

Janet Fyle, the Royal College of Midwives' professional policy adviser said there is a risk to mothers who breastfeed children aboard airlines:

"We're not saying women cannot breastfeed while flying," she said. "The issue we have to get across is that it's not breastfeeding that's the problem, it's the chair.''

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