Family’s anguish at third cot death tragedy

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The third cot death in three generations of the same Doncaster family has prompted doctors to offer them genetic testing.

Relatives of little Lucas Robert Colin Daniel Felton-Smith, who died at his Mexborough home 26 days after he was born in April last year, asked an expert at his inquest if ‘it runs in the family?’

Lucas’s grandmother said her older sister was a cot death baby in 1960, also at around 26-days-old, and she had lost a son at one-month, from the same cause.

Paramedics were called to the Whitelee Road, Mexborough, home of Stephen Smith and Louise Felton on the morning of May 5, 2012, after the dad found Lucas had stopped breathing.

The couple, who previously lived in North Swaithe Close, Bentley, had been trying for a baby for five years.

Lucas had gone to sleep about 1am after a small feed but Ms Felton was awoken at 10am by her partner saying he was not breathing. “I knew straightaway he had died,” said Mr Smith.

A post-mortem examination carried out by paediatric pathologist Marta Cohen showed he was a well looked after baby and there was no sign of any infection.

She gave the cause of death as Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.

Dr Cohen said: “If there is a family history it could be something in the genes that are transported. If there have been similar occurrences in the past that could be indicative.

“There must be something in the genes but it may not be the same genes that are faulty. We will be very happy to do tests.

“If this runs in the family it could be a genetic problem and other family members may need to be tested. That is the only thing we can offer at the moment.”

Medical research has so far failed to show a cause for SIDS but there are known risk factors.

It is more common in male babies, they are usually aged three to six months, deaths are more frequent in the winter, and maternal smoking may be a trigger.

Police said there were no suspicious circumstances about the death of Lucas.

Recording a verdict of natural causes, Assistant Coroner Geoffrey Saul said Lucas was a healthy young baby and Dr Cohen was not able to find a cause of death.

Ms Felton’s family declined to say anything further after the inquest.